A wail from the stricken mothers and wives,
Who mourn for the sealers brave,
Who weep for their loved and dear ones’ lives,
Gone out on the frozen wave.
The air is filled with direful woe,
For the lost two score and ten;
Who perished afar amid the floe –
Our brother fishermen.
‘Tis less than three short weeks ago
Since the Greenland left the land;
And hearts felt gay, for the coming fray,
In the breasts of the gallant band.
A golden sun in an azure sky,
Smiled down on the waves so blue;
And quietly kissed of the morning mist,
And cheered the hardy crew.
No dread of danger was in the air,
All hushed was the tempest’s roar;
And the Boreas breeze seemed rocked at ease
Far north in the Labrador.
All hail for the blood-red harvest now,
The vessel has struck the patch.
“Out, kill and pan, work every man,
‘Till the ship’s filled to the hatch.”
Right bravely wrought these gallant men,
Nor thought of approaching harm,
‘Till the northern giant’s sullen roar
Betokened the coming storm.
And then the scramble for ship and life
O’er icefields, wild and wide.
Oh! the story of those who suffered and lived
And those who suffered and died!
Oh! mothers who live by the northern seas,
Oh! wives of the perished brave;
Our prayers with thine to-day combine,
And looking beyond the grave,
We feel that whether your dear one lie
Beneath the sea or the sod,
That he who falls where duty calls,
Will rest in peace with God.
Source: Ryan & Small, Haulin’ Rope & Gaff: Songs and Poetry in the History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery (1978)