Happened across this again today…it bears re-posting and a single, historical correction. This is the most powerful scene & song in the entirety o’ the POTC series.
Historically, it’s a dead ringer (pardon the pun) – examples like this were not uncommon in both the Caribbean and on Wapping Dock in London. Often those hanged were left for several days as a warning – as well as hung in gibbets or other cages, to rot away.
While this is not an “old Pyrate song”, it plays like one. The crew did their research into the time period and mindset to create something authentic. However…many places across the interwebs have printed a singular, incorrect lyric – and language – as well as tone – are important as we know.
Much o’ the song is related to the content o’ the film’s tale, but the second line o’ the first verse is universal in it’s historical context:
Ye’ll notice something important – the word “bight” – frequently (and incorrectly) replaced as “and by the powers”.
Any good seafaring folk will tell ye a bight is either the looped part in a strong knot like a Bowline* (or, not coincidentally, a hangman’s noose). It comes from old English, via the Germanic, “byht” – a bend or angle – and was most often use to refer to a tight, “looped” section in a waterway (usually coastlines or rivers).
In it’s proper context, the line makes a powerful epithet against those who presumed authority o’er the free seas – “hang the powers” or less literally, “to hell with ye”…and, as it happens, the origin o’ that much more recent epithet, “bite me!”.
*Why is a Bowline important? It’s an extremely tight knot that won’t slip, so there’s always a loop in it the same size. So named as it’s the rope tossed from the BOW o’ the ship to lash it to the pier!
Credits: “Hoist the Colours”
Lyrics by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio
Music by Hans Zimmer and Gore Verbinski
© 2006 | Pirates of The Caribbean 3 : At World’s End (Soundtrack)
Cabin Boy Vocals: Brendyn Bell
Singing Gallows Pirates: Chris Allport, Lawrence Cummings, Jim Raycroft, Robert Hovencamp, Geoffrey Alch, Ned Werimer, Samuela Beasom, Jessica-Elisabeth