Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

Four Saints in a Boat

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1960 by Malvina Reynolds, renewed 1988.

Well there were four saints in a boat, a boat,
They were really just men like you and me,
But they got a little boat and went to sea
To sail to the Marshall Islands.

It wasn't a liner or a man of war,
It hardly had room enough for four,
It never had been to sea before,
But the saints were bound to go,
For the people had begged and the people had prayed
That the test of the bombs should never be made,
But nobody listened to what they said,
Tho they spoke with a fervent "No!"


So the four men knew that they had to go
Where the terrible bomb was set to blow,
And put their lives on a single throw
To halt the deadly hand,
And many who heard of the trip took heed,
And brought them the things that they might need,
And wish them well and prayed good speed
As they knelt upon the sand.


Well, the skipper was Albert Bigelow,
Bill Huntington was the mate, we know,
And the crew, who never were long below,
Were Sherwood and Willoughby,
And some were Quakers, and all were men
Who stood by the word of William Penn,
Who had lived in peace with the Indian,
Saying, "Love can make us free."


When they had sailed for a week or more
A storm came up with a mighty roar,
And drove the little boat back to shore,
And the people mourned the day.
But they mended the hull and fixed the lights,
And the Golden Rule was put to rights:
On March twenty-fith they set their sights
On an island far away.


Now you wouldn't suppose that the A.E.C.,
The mightiest chiefs in the whole country,
Would fear four men who had put to sea
In a little old boat with a sail.
But they passed an ex post facto law,
And when Golden Rule neared Hawaii's shore,
They sent the Coast Guard to get the four,
And threw them into jail.


The food was bad and the beds were hard,
And they feared the toughs in the prison yard
Whose fists were quick and whose hearts were scarred
In a wild and terrible school,
But they made their peace, and the people say,
When mailtime comes, to this very day,
A cry will run through the Iwilei:
"There's mail for the Golden Rule!"


Now the boat lay idle at the dock,
And bombs were tested around the clock,
And picket lines marched around the block,
And it seemed to be all in vain.
But the Phoenix sailed to the testing ground,
And people were speaking the world around,
And the cry for peace is a mighty sound
That is heard again and again.


Well, there were four saints in a boat, a boat,
They were really just men like you and me,
But they got a little boat and went to sea,
To sail to the Marshall Islands.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
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Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
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