Renaissance men developed a delightful, yet horrible way of dealing with their mad denizens: they were put on a ship and entrusted to mariners because folly, water, and sea, as everyone then “knew,” had an affinity for each other. Thus, “Ship of Fools” crisscrossed the sea and canals of Europe with their comic and pathetic cargo of souls. Some of them found pleasure and even a cure in the changing surroundings, in the isolation of being cast off, while others withdrew further, became worse, or died alone and away from their families. The cities and villages which had thus rid themselves of their crazed and crazy, could now take pleasure in watching the exciting sideshow when a ship full of foreign lunatics would dock at their harbors.
Probably the first time I heard the phrase “Ship of Fools”.
It’s an ancient message.
“Tell me quick” said old McFee
“What’s this all have to do with me?
I’ve spent all my time at sea a loner.”
“Is there something else I should know?
Something hidden down below the level of your conversation?”
Well he turned away before the answer
Though I yelled aloud he refused to hear
It became to clear
So it went as we put out
I was left in constant doubt
Everything I asked about seemed private
The captain strolled the bridge one night
I stopped him in the evening light
To ask him would it be all right to join him
But he stood there like some idol
And he listened like some temple
And then he turned away
All along the fateful coast
We moved silent like a ghost
The timeless sea of tireless host possessed us
The wind came building from the cold northwest
And soon the waves began to crest
Crashing cross the forward deck
All hands lost
I alone survived the sinking
I alone possessed the tools
On that ship of fools