She was black-hearted Joan,

Born on the Mewstone –image of female pirate

That jagged heart out past the bay,

Where ships sailed around

As they entered the Sound,

Or were wrecked by Joan’s Dad on the way.


He’d been forced to reside

On that desolate isle,

Though his actual crime is unknown,

But banished for life

With his child and his wife.

His revenge would be black-hearted Joan.


On salvage and tide,

Joan grew very wild,

In men’s boots and smoking a pipe.

The Law Men despised

The scandalous child,

Who could beat any man in a fight.


Then one bitter cold night

Joan’s family took flight,

As armed men invaded their home,

Shot Joan’s mother dead.

The Law Men declared:

“We’ll hear no more of black-hearted Joan.”




Customs officer Rob,

First day on the job,

Hunting smugglers beyond the Sound.

He found a small boat,

That was barely afloat,

And the woman aboard nearly drowned.


As she swooned in his arms,

He fell for her charms,

And agreed to row her to shore.

As he set out though,

The boat was heavy and low

And he struggled to pull on the oars.


There on the strand

Was a shadowy man,

Muskets loaded, ready to greet them.

Rob asked his new love,

“You know that sea-dog,

Were you expecting to meet him?”


“That’s my Dad, Finn,

Did I not mention him?

He kills men seen with his daughter.

And he’ll not be too happy,

Cos you’re sat on his brandy.

Best hide yourself now in the water.”


Rob slipped from the boat,

But struggled to float,

Battling to keep his head above water.

Exhausted from rowing,

He saw Finn approaching

Shouting advice to his daughter:


“Well done my sweet

That’s your third one this week!

Now best you make sure that he’s dead.”

With a storm in her eyes,

Like thunder she cried,

And smashed down the oar on Rob’s head.


“You can’t let me die,”

Came Rob’s last feeble cry.

“Please sir, I did nothing wrong.”

“Nor did I,” Finn replied.

“So you tell me why,

I was banished for life,

Watched them kill my wife,

Alone and reviled,

I raised our sweet child.

After what law men done,

They’ll get what’s to come,

Cos she’ll kill every one.


Raised from Mewstone,

With salt-flesh, granite-bone,

She’ll forever be known

As black-hearted Joan.”


by Laura Quigley

First performed at the China House, Plymouth, for The Word in 2016.