For The Fish We Must Prepare (Chris Cobb)

sheet music

The winter soon will be past, b'ys,
Look out for maggots and flies;
Summer time is drawing near,
For the fish we must prepare.

Oh, traps and trawls and finger-stalls,
Rubber boots and killick claws;
Some lines and twines and rope and coils,
You get sore hands and full of boils.

Sleepy eyes and staggering legs,
Your bit of old clothes all torn in rags;
Yoke your goats and fix your fence,
A gallon of liver is twenty cents.

Go span your hens, the c'ck will crow,
More rain, it goes too slow;
You need not wait nor hesitate,
We'll have a freezer full of bait.

Oh, tar-mops and bark-pots,
And fishin' caplin to the rocks;
It's garden time, now full speed,
Another load of government seed.

Hark at the whales, do you hear them blow?
One swallowed Jonah years ago;
He prayed and prayed, the wheel got jammed,
Then Jonah crawled out safe on land;
Now their throats are very small,
They swallow fish and that is all.

####.... Christopher Theodore (Chris) Cobb [1897-1968] of Barr'd Islands, Fogo, NL ....####
Collected in 1952 from the composer, Christopher Theodore (Chris) Cobb [1897-1968] of Barr'd Islands, Fogo, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.130-131, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that Chris Cobb had managed to squeeze into six short verses most of the chores that faced the outport Newfoundlander after a long winter of comparative idleness and boredom. At the height of the fishing season, he may have been working twenty hours a day if the fish were running. Peacock also noted that some fishermen saved the cod livers to sell separately for making cod-liver oil. When Chris Cobb composed this song some twenty or thirty years earlier, the price for a gallon of livers was an incredible twenty cents (verse three).

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Bark-pot - iron kettle in which the bark and buds of conifers are steeped to make a liquid for preserving fish nets, sails, etc.
Caplin - a small, iridescent deep-water fish (Mallotus villosus) like a smelt which, followed by the cod, appears inshore during June and July to spawn along the beaches, and is netted for bait, for manuring the fields, or dried, salted, smoked, or frozen for eating.
Finger-stall - a covering for thumb or finger to protect a cut or prevent chafing.
Killick claws - arms formed by the two wooden cross-pieces on which one or two oblong stones are set to make the base of a home made anchor called a killick.
Span - to hobble a domestic fowl.


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