Whaling Song (Kenneth Peacock)

See also: Greenland Whale Fisheries (Rankin Street)
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It was in the year of fifty-five
On March the twentieth day,
Our gallant ship her anchors weighed,
And to sea we sailed away, brave boys,
And to sea we sailed away.

Blowhard was our captain's name,
Our ship the Lion bold,
And we were bound to the northern seas,
To face the storms and cold, brave boys,
To face the storms and cold.

Our mate aloft on the foretop stood,
With a spy-glass in his hand:
"There's a whale! there's a whale!
A whale-fish!" he cries,
"And he blows at every span, brave boys,
And he blows at every span."

Our captain along the deck he ran,
A gallant little man was he.
"Overhaul, overhaul, your davit-tackle fall,
And launch your boat to the sea, brave boys,
And launch your boat to the sea."

We struck that whale and away he went,
With the flourishing of his tail;
He upset our boat, we lost one man,
But we did not gain that whale, brave boys,
But we did not gain that whale.

When news unto our captain came,
Of the losing of a man,
Of the losing of his 'prentice boy,
He down his colors drew, brave boys,
He down his colors drew.

"My gallant crew, don't be dismayed,
By the losing of a man,
For Providence will have its way,
That a man do all he can, brave boys,
That a man do all he can."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad [Laws K21] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Greenland Whale Fishery, published by W Armstrong (Liverpool) sometime between 1820 and 1824, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: 2806 c.17(160) ....####

This variant was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1952 from Thomas Sullivan [1875-?] of King's Cove, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports , Vol 1, pp.147-148, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that though seemingly of mid-nineteenth century composition ('Twas in the year of fifty-five) this sea ballad originated more than one hundred years earlier as a black letter broadside telling a similar tale before 1725. Peacock also noted that the heyday of the Greenland whale fishery was in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and 3 broadside versions, issued by Pitts, Catnach, and Such, appeared during this period. All the variants collected in the North Atlantic region are based upon, or influenced by these later broadsides.

A variant was recorded as Greenland Whale Fisheries by Great Big Sea - Pre GBS (Rankin Street Tape - Live At The Blarneystone, 1991).

See more songs by Great Big Sea.

A variant was also recorded as The Greenland Whale Fisheries by Ryan's Fancy (Dark Island - A Portrait Of Ryan's Fancy ©1971, Audat Records).

See more songs by Ryan's Fancy.

A variant was also recorded as Greenland Whale Fishery by Siochána (Cops For Cancer - On The Beat, 2000).

See more songs by Siochána.


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