Skipper Tom (Kenneth Peacock)

I scarce been in bed three ticks of the clock,
When at me back door I heard a loud knock,
'Twas first a loud knock and then a loud call,
It was old Skipper Tom, how loud he do bawl!

The night being so dark all the lights were gone out,
To get in my boat I scrambled about,
And down o'er the bank I steered 'er so straight,
With a whipping fine breeze and a tub of fresh bait.

Down to the sunker I anchored so fair,
Hand over me lines and never one tear,
Skipper Tom he laid down on the broad of his back,
Either 'sleep or awake he could hear his line crack.

Then up spoke the skipper, "Don't let your line slack,
For when he breaks water I'll be on his back!"
The fish he broke water, gave a wonderful swish,
When out of his mouth two hooks he did twist.

Skipper Tom he looked forward with a wonderful frown,
How hard he comes up and how light he goes down!
"I'll go to my bread basket get something to eat,
Then go aloft to as far as the cleat."

He then went aloft and spied all around,
A trifle of small fish around the shore ground,
The skipper he then came down from aloft,
The skipper he had his fat daggers cut off.

He ate his fat dagger and well licked his chin,
"We'll haul up our grapples and go no further in."
We had a whipping fine mainsail and a sporting fine jib,
A crooked-nosed punt and she sailed like a squid.

In the sweet month of August when the liver was plump,
We had our big puncheon chuck full to the bung,
Saying Missus, oh, Missus, you may hold your wish,
You can say what you like we're the devils for fish.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a native Newfoundland song ....####

This variant collected in 1952 by Kenneth Peacock from Alfred Israel Mahoney [1873-?] of Fogo, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 1, pp.143-144, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

NOTE: Peacock's spelling of the name Mahaney had no family member named Alfred Israel; further research found Alfred Israel Mahoney's birthdate in census records which included his wife and children.

Kenneth Peacock noted that the composer of this native fishing song is unknown, though Mr Mahaney[sic] assured him he was born somewhere in the Fogo area. Peacock also commented that in Newfoundland the word 'wonderful' performs the same colloquial function as the word 'terrible' in general usage ("My, it's wonderful warm today!").

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Liver - cod liver from which a commercially valuable oil is produced.
Puncheon - largest of the wooden casks once used as containers in the fisheries, usually made of oak and bound with steel hoops, about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide, and containing up to 140 gallons.
Sunker - submerged rock over which the sea breaks; sunken rock.

From The Free Dictionary:
Bung - A stopper, especially for the hole through which a cask, keg, or barrel is filled or emptied.


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