Bull Yorkens (Kenneth Peacock)

See also: Harkin's Voyage (MacEdward Leach)

If there's any offense, please stop my hand,
By ye I'll be advised,
I mean to state what did take place
In eighteen fifty-five.

Last Saturday being our thirtieth day
Cast on the raging main,
One single pound but a day
Each man for to maintain.

We're running all night on close-reef sails,
Expecting to meet the land;
What joys to see! - We're eagerly
Wating for to shake hands.

"No land, no light," Bull Yorkens cried,
"No land there is in view;
The daylight is approaching,
And forward we'll heave to."

But when the daylight cleared away,
A landed light we spied.
"Make sail, my boys!" Bull Yorkens cried,
"To get 'er in we'll try."

Two youths to loosen our forecourse,
Their orders to obey,
And one of them, poor fellow, fell
From our fore-yard that day.

At the time he fell eight knots and a half
She was taken from the rail,
At mediant day our helmsman
A-starboard swung the wheel.

So nimbly in our fore-yard we spun,
And our boats we launched by hand;
At the time he fell eight minutes passed,
He was a floating man.

Those hardy tars to save their lives
They exerted all their skill,
But breakers white all foaming
The boats began to fill.

The breakers white all foaming
Which over us did come down,
'Twas every man's opinion
What was in the boat will drown.

Bull Yorkens walked the quarterdeck,
Unto his men did say:
"Let go your fore and main brace,
Let your main-yards square away!"

For leaving this poor lad behind,
A lad we all loved dear,
The ocean deep to take asleep,
We're four miles from Cape Spear.

Now the Elizabeth she is arrived
And anchored in St John's,
The wharves they are all crowded
With women and with men.

Down came his old-aged father,
A-wiping off his eyes,
And cried out broken-hearted,
"Where did you leave my child?"

He cried out broken-hearted,
"Where did you leave my child?
For his tender mother I am sure
Will certainly run wild."

Oh don't lament, you parents,
The losing of your son,
A proper prayer is offered up
For him that now is gone.

Likewise men and cabin boys,
Men, women and children,
A proper prayer for Andrew Shean,
May he rest in peace! Amen.

####.... Variant of The Loss Of Andrew Sheehan written by John Grace, a seaman from Riverhead, St John's, NL ....####
This variant collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from Ronald Hoven [1899-1980] of Fogo, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.907-908, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

A variant was collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #11, Bold Larkin in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.19-20, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003). (Co-published with Breakwater Books, St John's, in the Atlantic provinces).

See more songs by Lehr and Best

A variant was also sung as Harkin's Voyage by Charles Dawe [1875-1957] of Flatrock, NL, and another sung as Bold Larkin by Michael (Mike) A Kent [1904-1997] of Cape Broyle, NL, both published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

Kenneth Peacock noted that since native songs and ballads composed before 1900 are fairly rare, this tragic sea ballad of 1855 is a real collector's item.


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