|Johnny Don't Go Walking With The Fishes
© Copyright George Papavgeris, January 2002
About the dangers of sponge diving in Greece in the late 19th century,
when the standard diving suits were introduced but nothing was yet
known about the causes of decompression sickness. Between 1860 and
1910, when the first decompression tables were published, half of the
Greek sponge divers were either killed or paralysed by the “bends”.
Written in Greek music style, in their honour.
Spring again has blessed the island,
Weather settled for two weeks.
And the crews outside the churches
For communion line the streets.
Fifty boats or more are ready
Fifty captain's wives wear black
And five hundred divers bragging
Who will bring the big one back.
Generations made a living
Diving naked with the stone
But we didn't stay too long down
With the knife one slash and home.
Now these diving suits will tempt you
To go walking in the deep
But the bends have claimed so many
And my fear won't let me sleep.
Your best friend now walks with crutches
And his brother cannot speak
And your cousin and my nephew
In the churchyard lies asleep.
In the eyes of your sweet Mary
Tears like diamonds don't you see?
And I want my son around me
And grandchildren on my knee.
Johnny, don't go walking with the fishes
Leave the suit and helmet here with me.
Jobs on shore are plenty if you wish it
This year don't go diving
Leave the sponge just where it's meant to be.
Johnny, don't go walking in the sea
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