Il était un petit navire

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Théodore Géricault's painting The Raft of the Medusa

"Il était un petit navire" (English: There was a little ship) is a traditional French song that is now considered a children's song, despite its macabre tone.

The song tells the story of a young shipwrecked sailor who is about to be eaten by the other sailors. They discuss how to cook the man and what sauce to use. He then prays to the Virgin Mary and is saved by a miracle.

This song might refer to the famous wreck of the Medusa, immortalised in the painting The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault.

In popular culture[edit]

Lyrics (French)[edit]

Il était un petit navire {x2}
Qui n’avait ja-ja-jamais navigué {x2}
Ohé ! Ohé !

{Refrain:}

Ohé ! Ohé ! Matelot,
Matelot navigue sur les flots
Ohé ! Ohé ! Matelot,
Matelot navigue sur les flots

Il entreprit un long voyage {x2}
Sur la mer Mé-Mé-Méditerranée {x2}
Ohé ! Ohé !

Au bout de cinq à six semaines, (x2)
Les vivres vin-vin-vinrent à manquer (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

On tira à la courte paille, (x2)
Pour savoir qui-qui-qui serait mangé, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Le sort tomba sur le plus jeune, (x2)
C’est donc lui qui-qui-qui fut désigné, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

On cherche alors à quelle sauce, (x2)
Le pauvre enfant-fant-fant sera mangé, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

L’un voulait qu’on le mît à frire, (x2)
L’autre voulait-lait-lait le fricasser, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Pendant qu’ainsi l’on délibère, (x2)
Il monte en haut-haut-haut du grand hunier, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Il fait au ciel une prière (x2)
Interrogeant-geant-geant l’immensité, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Mais regardant la mer entière, (x2)
Il vit des flots-flots-flots de tous côtés, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Oh ! Sainte Vierge ma patronne, (x2)
Cria le pau-pau-pauvre infortuné, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Si j’ai péché, vite pardonne, (x2)
Empêche-les-les-les de me manger, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Au même instant un grand miracle, (x2)
Pour l’enfant fut-fut-fut réalisé, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Des p’tits poissons dans le navire, (x2)
Sautèrent par-par-par et par milliers, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

On les prit, on les mit à frire, (x2)
Le jeune mou-mou-mousse fut sauvé, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Si cette histoire vous amuse, (x2)
Nous allons la-la-la recommencer, (x2)
Ohé ! Ohé !

Lyrics (English)[edit]

There was once a little boat (x2) 
That never on the sea had sailed (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

Chorus:
Ahoy! Ahoy! Sailor, 
Sailor sailing on the high sea 
Ahoy! Ahoy! Sailor, 
Sailor sailing on the high sea

It undertook a long journey, (x2) 
On the Mediterranean sea, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

After five or six weeks, (x2) 
Rations began to wane (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

Straws were drawn all around, (x2) 
To figure out who'd be eaten, (x2)
 Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

Fate selected the youngest boy, (x2) 
It was thus him that was called, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

Now t'was wondered with what sauce, (x2) 
The poor boy would be eaten, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

One wanted to fry him shallow, (x2) 
Other cook him in a stew, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

As the decision was being made, (x2) 
He clambered to t'top of the tallest sail, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

He implored heaven with a prayer, (x2) 
Called out to infinity, (x2) 
Ahoy ! Ahoy !

(Chorus)

Looking upon the surrounding sea, (x2) 
He saw naught but waves as far as eyes could see, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy !

(Chorus)

Hail! Blessed Virgin Mary, (x2) 
Cried out the unlucky boy, (x2)
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

If I have sinned, quickly forgive, (x2) 
Please stop them from eating me, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

At that moment, a miracle, (x2) 
For the boy was performed, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

Small fishes upon the deck, (x2) 
Leapt by the thousands, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

Quickly they were grabbed and fried, (x2) 
And the ship's boy was saved, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

If to your liking was this tale, (x2) 
Well, let us tell it again, (x2) 
Ahoy! Ahoy!

(Chorus)

In other languages[edit]

  • German: War einst ein kleines Segelschiffchen[1]
  • Greek: Ήταν ένα μικρό καράβι [Itan ena mikro karavi][2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ For lyrics see here
  2. ^ For lyrics see here

External links[edit]