Track 4. Greenland Fisheries (Roud 347)

This was another song I learnt from the singing of Gordon Kidd, this time it was in my teenage years. Porlock harbour was exceptionally busy, so the songs of the sailing families were strong in that area. Moby Dick was my favourite film as a child, and I think that’s why this song has stayed with me so long.

In eighteen-hundred-and-forty-three, on March the 13th day, our gallant ship her anchor weighed, bound for Greenland bore away (break oars!), bound for Greenland bore away.

The lookout in the crows tree nest with a spyglass in his hand:

“There’s a whale, there’s a whale! There’s a whale fishy boys!" And she blows with every span (break oars!), and she blows with every span.

The captain stood on the quarter deck, for a gallant man was he, “Haul away haul away! Let your belly tackles fall, and put your boats to sea (break oars!), and put your boats to sea."

The boats were launched and the men aboard and the whale 'twas soon in view. “Please row, please row, haul away and go!” and we steered to where the whale fish blew (break oars!), and we steered to where the whale fishy blew.

The harpoon struck and the line played out, and she gave an awesome flick of her tail. The boat capsized, we lost four sailor boys, and we never caught that whale (break oars!), and we never caught that whale.

The losing of that bloody sperm whale fish oh it grieved our captain sore, but the losing of those jolly sailor boys oh it grieved him ten times more (break oars!), oh it grieved him ten times more.

Now Greenland is a barren place, 'tis a place that’s seldom green, there’s ice and snow and the whale fishy blows and daylight seldom seen (break oars!), and daylight seldom seen.

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