The Nimrod's Song (James Murphy)

Come all ye friends of Newfoundland
who have a mind to roam,
O'er the wild and stormy ocean
far from your native home;
I hope you'll pay attention
and listen to my song,
To those few lines I'm going to sing,
it won't detain you long.

It was on the 20th day of March
in the ice we got jammed,
Between the Island of St Paul's
and the shores of Newfoundland;
The wind being from the south south east
all mixed with showers of snow,
And each man packed his clothes, boys,
and from her he did go.

The captain, mate and boatswain
stood on the bridge that time,
Some of our crew went down below
provisions for to find;
It would grieve the hearts of any man
to see us standing so,
Upon the frozen pans of ice
amidst the frost and snow.

The ice still kept on rafting,
our ship still going down,
Until by the Providence of God
the ice it wheeled around;
Our captain he stood on the bridge,
the ice it gave a slack,
And by the moving of his hand
he ordered all hands back.

Some of us tried to board her,
but it was all in vain,
The force of ice came bundling in,
her decks we could not gain;
Some of our crew looked sorrowful
on board of us that day,
Until the ice it gave a slack
and we got underway.

Jim Barrett's been our deck master,
the berth that he did fill,
He climbed the rigging of the ship
to cut away the sail;
He cut the mainsail from the mast,
as you may understand,
For to make a covering for us
out upon the frozen jam.

The ice it broke our quarter boats,
likewise our quarter sail,
It didn't hurt our steering gear
nor hinder us from sail;
Our captain been a hero bold,
a man of heart and skill,
His name is Baxter Barbour,
belonging to Wesleyville.

John Gibbon's been our carpenter,
the same I will relate,
Fred Newbury our boatswain,
Bill Thistle boatswain mate;
Our cabin cook from Carbonear,
James Poole it is his name,
Saved nothing but his cooking suit
to face the icy plain.

George Snow he was our cabin steward,
the same I will pen down,
Our mate been Thomas Rideout,
a native of New Town;
John Crocker was our for'ad cook,
Paddy Murphy does the same,
And the man that minded the lobby,
Mark Norris is his name.

Success to Captain Barbour,
and may he soon command,
A better ship than the Nimrod
and a crew from Newfoundland;
May good luck, too, attend him
while on the northern seas,
And may his big jib always draw,
filled by a moderate breeze.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland song ....####
Printed in St John's in 1925 on pp.1-3 of Songs Sung By Old Time Sealers Of Many Years Ago, published by James Murphy [1867-1931].

James Murphy's Publisher's Notes:
Written the spring of 1907. It was the last voyage to the ice fields which the Nimrod made. She was sold to the Polar Expedition party the following summer.

From Wikipedia:
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton [1874-1922] - Polar explorer and leader of the 1907-1909 Nimrod Expedition. On 1 January, 1908, Nimrod sailed for the Antarctic from Lyttelton Harbour, NZ, where she was towed by the steamer Koonya to conserve coal. Shackleton established a base for the Nimrod Expedition at Cape Royds, and the "Great Southern Journey" began on 19 October, 1908, reaching a new farthest south point only 112 miles (180 km) from the South Pole on 9 Jan, 1909. Shackleton returned to the United Kingdom as a hero.

Additional notes: Per the Canadian Great War Project, Captain Barbour, the Nimrod's commander in this song, was lost at sea while serving in the Canadian Merchant Navy . Per Sunderland Shipbuilders Company, Barbour's ship, the SS Dunelm was lost with all twenty hands after passing Cape Race on October 18, 1915, while en route from Sydney, NS to Manchester, UK, laden with products from Dominion Iron & Steel Company. Per Ron Young in a 2009 post at uboat.net, the Dunelm was probably lost due to heavy weather and not enemy action.


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