Ghostly Crew (MacEdward Leach)

See also: Twelve Ghostly Fishermen (Harry L Marcy)

(The Ghostly Sailors)

Ye smile as ye have a mind to,
I pray you lend an ear,
We were men and boys together
long for fifty years;
I been tossed upon the ocean
in summer pleasant breeze,
Likewise at early seasons
and fishing in the bays.

I've tossed about on Georges,
been fishing in the Bay,
Down south in early seasons
most anywhere to pay;
I been on different voyages
from Western banks to Grand,
I sailed in herring vessels
bound down to Newfoundland,

I had seen storms I'll tell you,
boys, when things looked rather blue,
And somehow or another
a lucky hand pulled through;
I ain't no brag nor coward,
I won't say more than that,
I was never easier frightened
or worst of other men.

As we lay offshore one evening
being on a summer's day,
I never will forget it
in all my mortal days;
I was standing at my grand dog watch,
I felt a thrilling dread
Crept over me as if I heard
one calling from the dead.

When over her rail came climbing
so slowly one by one,
A dozen ghostly seamen,
just wait till I am done;
Their face being pale with seaweed
shone ghastly through the night,
And each man took his station
as if they had a right.

Oh, we cruised around those foggy banks
for the space of that long night,
And rather than I'd say so
till the day has shown its light;
When these twelve ghostly spirits
to the rail again,
And vanished in an instant
before the sons of man.

Now we sailed right on to harbour
and every mother's son,
Will tell you that sad story
the same as I have done;
The trip before the other,
we were out on George's Dan,
Run down another vessel,
sank her and all her men.

These were the same poor fellows
may the Lord now rest their souls,
That our old craft ran over
that night on George's shoal;
But now you have heard my story,
the same as I have seen,
And I never believed in spirits
but forever will again.

####.... Harry L Marcy (Ballads And Songs Of The Sea, compiled and published by Proctor Brothers, Publishers, Gloucester, MA, 1874, pp.46-48) ....####
Collected in 1950 by MacEdward Leach from Patrick Joseph (Pad) Murphy [1886-1986] of Calvert , Caplin Bay, NL, and published as Ghostly Fishermen in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

MacEdward Leach also collected variants in 1951 from Mrs Thomas (Anastasia Ryan) Ghaney [1883-1959] of Fermeuse, NL, published as Spirit Song On George's Banks and from Patrick (Pat) Critch [1882-1963] of Flatrock, NL, published as The Spirit Song On George's in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected in 1959 by Kenneth Peacock from Alan MacArthur and published as The Ghostly Sailors in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3 , pp.873-874, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

See The Glen Alone for another ballad of haunting at sea.


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