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Fun Nursery Rhyme “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” for Your Little Ones

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An Introduction to the “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” Nursery Rhyme

‘I Saw a Ship a-Sailing’ is a very funny nursery rhyme in English. It is helpful for kids to be reactive. It is considered one of the most imaginative nursery songs/rhymes that kick-starts the kids' creativity. Kids sail in the world of imagination with a ship - with sails made of silk, masts of gold, and a duck as captain. The poem is based on the fact that in the old days sailing through the world was one of the main methods of transportation before planes became predominant. Let's read these fun sailing lyrics. 

A Ship Sailing on the Sea

A Ship Sailing on the Sea

“I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” Lyrics

The complete lyrics of the nursery rhyme titled ‘I Saw a Ship a-Sailing’ is given below. Sing along if you know them already!

I saw a ship a-sailing,

A-sailing on the sea.

And, oh, but it was laden

With pretty things for thee.

There were comfits in the cabin,

And apples in the hold,

The sails were made of silk,

And the masts were all of the gold.

The four-and-twenty sailors,

That stood between the decks,

Were four-and-twenty white mice,

With chains about their necks.

Captain Duck of the Ship

Captain Duck of the Ship

The captain was a duck,

With a packet on his back,

And when the ship began to move,

The captain said, "Quack! Quack!"

Synopsis of the Poem

This nursery rhyme is written in a manner that it appears as if someone is narrating a tale about a ship that has been sailing on the sea. The ship is filled with great stuff such as delicious food like apples and comfits (a type of candy) and also beautiful sails made of silk, and masts made of gold. The ship is carrying twenty-four mice. The writer has further said that these mice are the sailors. The captain of the ship is a duck, which quacks as soon the ship begins to move.


“I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” is a classic nursery rhyme that is one of the favourite rhymes of children of all time. It is a perfect rhyme to enjoy from a young age. In the above article, the lyrics of the poem is given with a brief synopsis. We hope you enjoyed the poem/song. You can also undertake a fun activity, whereby you can draw the ship with Captain Duck, the mice and all other things mentioned in the lyrics.

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FAQs on Fun Nursery Rhyme “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” for Your Little Ones

1. Why should kids read “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing”?

The story of this song for kids is very colourful as well as creative. They start imagining things after reading this. Through “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing”, children learn some new vocabulary words in English such as silk or gold, and even some more common ones like a ship, apple, sea, or duck. Kids will learn that ships were the most ancient modes of transport in the world.

2. Who is the captain of the ship in the “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing”?

“I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” is a funny and creative nursery rhyme. There are twenty-four mice who are sailors on the ship. A duck is the captain of the ship in the “I Saw a Ship a-Sailing” poem.