The Greenland Disaster (3)



They sailed from St. John’s Harbour all on the tenth of March,
Commanded by Captain Barbour, the ice-fields for to search.

Listen to my mournful story; your grief it will renew,
When I relate the hardships that befell the Greenland’s crew.

Her course it lay into the North; she boldly sailed away
Down to the North, passed by the Funks, she still kept on her way.

No danger seemed to threaten her, this gay and gallant boat,
And on the twelfth, I heard them say, they took their first whitecoat.

From then until the twenty-first, all seemed so bright and gay,
And for to get a paying trip they killed and panned away.

It crowned their labours with delight, the prospect being so great;
They did not know the grief and woe that on them did await.

‘Twas early on the twenty-first, just by the morning light
The Captain gave his orders, all with a cheerful voice.

“All hands, all hands upon the ice! Be ready, one and all!”
And each man then most cheerfully reponded to his call.

But in a short time after that the storm it did arise,
Boreas blew with vengeance, which darkened o’er the skies.

Those poor, unhappy creatures, they knew not where to go;
They could not find protection from the bitter frost and snow.

They then drew close together, their freezing limbs to warm;
It was a small protection from that wild and bitter storm.

They raised a prayer most fervently to Him above the sky;
They cast one mournful glance, and then laid down to die.

And then the Greenland came in view – oh, what a dreadful sight!
Twenty-five stiff, frozen corpses lay dead upon the ice.

T hose twenty-five were brought to land, but shocking to relate,
There were twenty-three still missing – made the number forty-eight.

And now they fill a watery grave – from home and friends, away,
Until the death roll shall be called upon the Judgment Day.

“May the Lord have mercy on their souls,” will be our fervent prayer,
And may they rest in heaven, always free from earthly care.

Source: Blondahl, Omar, Newfoundland Sings (1964: 79)

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