The Ballad Of Dog Hood Daly (Leslie Fitzgerald)

My Goodness! Who'd a thought it,
when young Frank went off to Boston
And left me livin' all alone, in Bonavista Bay?
But he got good edjacation,
livin' with his mother's uncle -
That was nearly thirty years ago -
he's forty-two today,
And he's managin' a branch here,
fer a firm in USA.

Now, I'm livin' in the City here,
with fine things all around me,
With clothes galore and fancy grub,
and money in the bank;
All the same I can't help wishin'
that he'd left me where he found me,
I'm too ole a man fer gaiety,
and never used to swank -
And I'm tired a pretendin'
that I like it here, to Frank.

Now, he's Francis Daly, Junior,
and he calls me Dad and Father;
Somehow I'd kinda sooner when
he used to call me Da,
He wasn't like a stranger there,
at home in Sandy Harbour,
The three of us were happy then -
may God be good to Ma -
And what care I fer servants,
talkies, bridge and prattle... Bah!

I am lonesome in the midst of crowds,
and poor, with worldly riches;
How foolish all this struggle
and this worry seems to be!
The rush to get to Nowhere,
and the strain to finish Nothin' -
All the senseless strivin' tenseness
in the faces that I see;
But it all can't buy Contentment -
that's the strangest thing to me.

They just bought me a Tuxedo,
but they won't get it on me though!
Just think what Uncle Neddy Green
and Skipper Joe would do
If they saw me silk pyjamas,
all bedecked with Russian dragons,
And the colored scent the barber used,
to give me a shampoo,
Or the dinner coat I had to wear
at gran'daughter's dayboo!

Just think a me, who used to be at home,
"Ole Dog Hood" Daly,
Bein' told by grown wimmen that
I'm "Just too, too divine" -
If that reaches home I'm finished
with me mates in Sandy Harbour.
Though I'm strong and straight -
come May the eight I'll then be sixty-nine -
But I'd never live to raise again
this ole, white head a mine.

But no one sees that hereabout -
they think I should be happy;
So I left me friends and fishin' gear
to give their plans a try,
But the North keeps on a-callin' -
I can see it's no use stallin' -
Keeps a-tuggin' at me heart strings
till a mist comes to me eye,
And I wished they had learned
to let a sleepin' Dog Hood lie.

Now I'm sittin' in an easy chair
and gazin' at the fire,
Before a green-tiled fireplace,
where the servants call me "Sir" -
But I miss me flour-barrel chair
and barrel-oven cooker,
And the smell of birch,
and cracklin' of dry juniper and fir,
And the appetizin' odor of
a good salt water tur.

Wha's one cup a tea to the likes of me,
in fancy egg-shell china?
Her-doves, and chicken a la mud -
or any furrin' dish -
Like noodles, lilac sherbot,
apertifs and bullyun,
Mackey roons and sparrow grass?
When all I do is wish
Fer doughboys, brewis, fresh cod's heads,
or a bit of watered fish.

The smells and sounds a Newfoundland
are not here in the City -
The smell of bark and oakum,
and the new bass rope and twine,
Of pitch and tar in springtime,
and the scent of hay in summer,
And the burnin' turf in autumn,
and the tangy smell of brine -
Ah! that makes revivin' incense
for this sad ole heart a mine.

The hearty hail from loaded skiffs,
all racin' fer the harbour,
And sinkin' to the gunnels with
fresh, squirmin', lashin' cod,
The music of accordeons
across the Gut in summer,
The happy song of ploughmen
turnin' over new spring sod,
And the merry sounds a Nature,
all proclaimin' Nature's God.

Raindrops on the cottage roof,
the rooster's call at dawnin',
Seas that thunder on the beach,
dwies on the window pane,
The howl of dogs at midnight
from far off a-down the valley,
The motor boats at daybreak,
and the rattlin' of a chain -
Oh, I'd give a thousand years
a this to know it once again.

I can see the schools of caplin now,
that roll along the beaches,
And the gleamin' shoals where
herrin' sparkle in the midday sun,
The leapin' silver salmon
in the clear pools in the river,
And the evening-star a-twinklin'
all alone when day is done -
Oh, I wish you'd see - at least fer me -
that this is LIFE, my son.

For the roarin' seas on headlands
are forever callin', callin',
And the skies above the Sugar Loaf
where carded clouds are curled;
The sunsets, red and amber,
where the sun sinks in the ocean
To wash the day's grime from his face -
where lathered foam in swirled,
And groom - another day to cheer -
that top-knot a the world.

I still can hear the old church bell,
on silent Sunday mornin's,
When a Sabbath hush is over all
and everything is still,
And the honest, hearty neighbors
quietly talk of fish and weather,
After Mass and Benediction,
grouped around the Chapel Hill -
Or on Sunday evenin's saunter
to the ruined water mill.

"Young fella boy! Don't lose it",
punctuating ole come-all yees
With a bull's-eye to the wood box
at the end of every verse;
Crude and backward you may call it -
just an outport bumpkin's pastime -
But it never hurts our neighbors,
our salvation, or our purse,
And I know of City pastimes
that are certainly much worse.

Can you blame me if I'm dreamin'
of me room in Sandy Harbour,
Of me skiff, bleached underneath
the flake fornenst the empty stage,
Of the wood-pile and potaty ground,
beside the white-washed cottage,
And the horny-handed "Skippers" -
tough, but mellowin' with age,
Who yarn and arg' fer hours,
and then end up in a rage?

I wonder do they miss me -
me ole lobster pots and killicks,
The woodhorse and the cellar,
the ole stable and the store,
The punt I built two years ago,
just purposely fer gunnin'
And the little ole back kitchen,
where the kittle sang of yore?
Do they whisper, "Where's our lover?
Will he see us any more?"

I am comin' back, ole cottage -
tell the lobster pots and killicks;
Your faded walls, me cracked old chanties,
never did annoy;
I'll clear your garden path of weeds
and mend the picket fences,
And bathe me cramped and stifled soul
and chuckle like a boy,
And I'll live to be a hundred
in your clean, sweet, simple joy.

Yes, I'm comin' ole white cottage -
tell me gunnin' punt and kittle;
Back to the woods and barrens
where the hare and bull-moose roam,
Back to the peaceful meadows,
to the skiff moored on the collar,
Back to the cleansin' breezes
purified by ocean foam -
I could kiss the very beach rocks
in my sea-girt, outport home.

Father Gray, our pastor, told me -
and it seems the good man knew it -
(And, thank God, I took his counsel then,
and did not sell a thing)
"Old oaks can't thrive in flower pots,
and whales can't live like goldfish,
This is not good-bye, ole sea-dog -
I'll see you in the spring".
Yes, please God, the month of May
will hear my corkin' mallet ring.

Then I'll breeze again before the wind,
a-singin at the tiller,
Racin' uncle Ned and Skipper Joe
across the harbour bar,
In the sport fer kings I'll revel,
fearing neither man nor devil -
Where the sea gulls dive fer herrin',
like a swiftly fallin' star,
I'll be smokin' good black baccy -
not a twenty-cent seegar.

####.... Reverend Doctor Leslie G Fitzgerald, poet priest of St Brendan's, from Harbour Grace, NL [1898-1965] Lone Eagles of God: A Collection of Ballads (New York: The Exposition Press, 1949; St John's: The Colonial Stationery Co Ltd) ....####
This variant was printed on pp.30-32 of the Atlantic Guardian, volume 01, number 10 (November 1945), and published by Atlantic Guardian Associates, Montreal, Quebec, Ewart Young, editor [1913-1968].

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Baccy - tobacco.
Bass also: bazz, baz - throw with force; to pitch or toss.
Brewis - sea-biscuit or 'hard tack' soaked in water and then boiled; such a dish cooked with salt cod and fat pork.
Caplin - 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.
Cod's Heads - heads of cod-fish, especially used as fertilizer; fleshy part of the heads eaten as a delicacy.
Collar -
¹ anchor, chain and rope attached by means of a loop or bight to a buoy and to bow of boat and used to moor the craft in a harbour; frequently with defining word boat; mooring;
² location where a boat is anchored; berth; usually in phrase on the collar; a place near shore where boats are moored for safety; a boat is said then to be on the collar.
Corking Mallet - hammerlike tool with a head commonly of wood but occasionally of rawhide, used for driving a metal chisel with a wooden handle to wedge oakum in seams of a boat or other object to caulk or make it tight against leakage.
Dog Hood - very dangerous, breeding-age, male hood seal.
Dwie also: dwy, dwey, dwigh, dwoi, dwye; - gust, flurry; squall; brief shower or storm.
Flake - platform built on poles and spread with boughs for drying cod-fish on the foreshore.
Killick - anchor made up of an elongated stone encased in pliable sticks bound at the top and fixed in two curved cross-pieces, used in mooring nets and small boats.
Punt - undecked boat up to 25 ft (7.6 m) in length, round-bottomed and keeled, driven by oars, sail or engine and used variously in the inshore or coastal fishery.
Shoal - large number of fish (especially cod) or seals swimming in company while feeding or migrating; the migration of the fish or seals to inshore water.
Sugar Loaf - in designation of a prominent hill resembling in its shape a cone of refined sugar; high headland between St John's and Torbay, resembling a sugar loaf.
Tur or Turr - one of several sea-birds hunted as food; Atlantic common murre; baccalieu bird (Uria aalge aalge).
Watered Fish - (b) dried and salted cod (or meat) soaked in water to remove salt preparatory to cooking.

From Dictionary.com:
Doughboy - ² rounded mass of dough, boiled or steamed as a dumpling or deep-fried and served as a hot bread.
Fornenst - ¹ next to; near to. ² against; facing; opposite.


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