#01146 Print This Page
You may smile if you're a mind to, but perhaps you'll lend an ear,
Like men and boys together, well nigh for fifty year;
We've sailed upon the ocean in summer's pleasant days,
Likewise in stormy winter when the howling winds do rage.
I've tossed about on Georges, been fishing in the Bay,
Down south in early summer, most anywhere would pay;
I've been in different vessels to the Western Bank and Grand,
Likewise in herring vessels that sail to Newfoundland.
There I saw rough times, I tell you, when things looked rather blue,
Somehow I have been lucky and always have got through;
I ain't no boast, however, I won't say much, but then,
I wasn't easily frightened like most of other men.
One night as we were sailing, beware of land away,
I never shall forget it until my dying day;
It was in our grand dog watches I felt a chilly dread
Come over me as though I heard one calling from the dead.
Right o'er our rail came climbing, all silent, one by one,
A dozen hardy sailors, just wait till I am done;
Their faces pale and sea-worn, all ghostly through the night,
Each fellow took his station as if he had a right.
They moved about together till land did heave in sight,
Or rather, I should say so, the lighthouse threw its light;
And then those ghostly sailors all to the rail as one,
They vanished like the morning dew after the rising sun.
Those were the same poor fellows, I hope God blest their souls,
That our old craft run under that night on Georges Shoals;
Well, now my song is ended, it is just as I have said,
I do believe in spirits, from that I'll not be led.
A variant was collected in 1950 from Morris Houlihan [b.1885] of Flatrock, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
MacEdward Leach also collected variants in 1951 from Mrs. T. Ghaney of Fermeuse, NL, published as Spirit Song On George's Banks and from Pat Critch of Flatrock, NL, published as The Spirit Song On George's in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A variant was also collected in 1959 from Alan MacArthur by Kenneth Peacock and published as The Ghostly Sailors in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.873-874, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.