Shipwreck on the Great Newfoundland Banks

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There are several sea songs entitled “the Banks of Newfoundland”, not to be properly considered variations on the same melody, even if they share a common theme, the dangers of fishing or navigation offshore of Newfoundland, on the Great Banks

Oh, you may bless your happy lots, all ye who dwell on shore

“Banks of Newfoundland” tells the tragic story of a ship tormented by the hurricane and unable to maneuver, stuck on the Great Banks, the only hope left: the sighting of another ship for rescue!
And after more than fifteen days without provisions it remains only the “law of the sea” to give extreme support to the remaining men.

CANADIAN VERSION

Margaret Christl &d Ian Robb from The Barley Grain for Me, 1976 
comparing the variant collected in 1957 by Edith Fowke from the voice of O J Abbott of Ontario and published in The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs (1973) (see text)

I
Oh, you may bless your happy lots (1),
all ye who dwell on shore,
For it’s little you know of the hardships that we poor seamen bore.
Yes, it’s little you know of the hardships that we were forced to stand
For fourteen days and fifteen night on the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
Our ship, she sailed through frost and snow from the day we left Quebec,
And if we had not walked about we’d have frozen to the deck.
But we being true-born sailor men as ever ship had manned
Our Captain, he doubled our grog each day on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
Well, there never was a ship, me boys, that sailed the western waves,
But the billowy seas came a-rolling in and bent them into staves.
Our ship being built of unseasoned wood, it could but little stand,
The hurricane, it met us there on the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
Well, we fasted for thirteen days and nights, our provisions giving out,
On the morning of the fourteenth day, we cast our lines about (2).
Well, the lot, it fell on the Captain’s son (3), and thinking relief at hand,
We spared him for another night on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
On the morning of the fifteenth day, no vessel did appear.
We gave to him another hour to offer up a prayer.
Well, Providence to us proved kind; kept blood from every hand (4),
For an English vessel hove in sight on the Banks of Newfoundland.
VI
We hoisted aloft our signal; they bore down on us straightaway.
When they saw our pitiful condition, they began to weep and pray.
Five hundred souls we had on board when first we left the land
There’s now alive but seventy-five on the Banks of Newfoundland.
VII
They took us off that ship, me boys; we was more like ghosts than men.
They fed us and they clothed us and brought us back again.
They fed us and they clothed us, and brought us straight to land.
While the billowy waves roll o’er the graves on the Banks of Newfoundland.

NOTES
1) luck
2) the one who pulled the shorter straw was the “winner”, and sacrificed himself for the good of the survivors, this practice was called “law of the sea”
3) a commonplace because in the ballads on cannibalism at sea it always touches to the young cabin boy
4) the juxtaposition between the two verses with the man ready for the sacrifice and sighting at dawn of the ship that will rescue them, wants to mitigate the harsh reality of cannibalism, a horrible practice to tell but that is always lurking in the moments of desperation and as an extreme resource for survival, see“The Ship in Distress

Comparing
irish version:
Eddie Butcher
1968 from ITMA
Andy Irvine from Abocurragh, 2010  (text here)

american version:
Mabel Worcester
 1967 from the University of Maine digital archive

transportation song
working on a  fisher ship
the Eastern Light
captain’s death (american ballad)
shipwreck and rescue on the Banks (Canadian ballad)

 

LINK
https://www.itma.ie/digital-library/sound/banks_of_newfoundland_eddie_butcher
http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-BanksNewfoundland.html
https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/songstorysamplercollection/18/
http://gestsongs.com/02/banks6.htm

Naufragio sui Grandi Banchi di Terranova

Read the post in English

Ci sono parecchie  sea songs dal titolo “the Banks of Newfoundland”,  da non considerarsi propriamente come variazioni su una stessa melodia, anche se condividono un tema comune, i pericoli della pesca o della navigazione al largo di Terranova sui Grandi Banchi.

Oh, you may bless your happy lots, all ye who dwell on shore

naufragioIn “Banks of Newfoundland” si narra la tragica storia, di una nave tormentata dall’uragano e impossibilitata a manovrare, bloccata sui Grandi Banchi, l’unica speranza rimasta: l’avvistamento di un’altra nave per i soccorsi!
E dopo più di quindici giorni senza provviste resta solo la “legge del mare” a dare l’estremo sostegno agli uomini rimasti.

VERSIONI CANADESI

Margaret Christl &d Ian Robb in The Barley Grain for Me, 1976 
si confronti con la variante collezionata nel 1957 da Edith Fowke dalla voce di  O J Abbott di Ontario e pubblicata ne The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs (1973) (vedi testo)


I
Oh, you may bless your happy lots (1),
all ye who dwell on shore,
For it’s little you know of the hardships that we poor seamen bore.
Yes, it’s little you know of the hardships that we were forced to stand
For fourteen days and fifteen night on the Banks of Newfoundland.
II
Our ship, she sailed through frost and snow from the day we left Quebec,
And if we had not walked about we’d have frozen to the deck.
But we being true-born sailor men as ever ship had manned
Our Captain, he doubled our grog each day on the Banks of Newfoundland.
III
Well, there never was a ship, me boys, that sailed the western waves,
But the billowy seas came a-rolling in and bent them into staves.
Our ship being built of unseasoned wood, it could but little stand,
The hurricane, it met us there on the Banks of Newfoundland.
IV
Well, we fasted for thirteen days and nights, our provisions giving out,
On the morning of the fourteenth day, we cast our lines about (2).
Well, the lot, it fell on the Captain’s son (3), and thinking relief at hand,
We spared him for another night on the Banks of Newfoundland.
V
On the morning of the fifteenth day, no vessel did appear.
We gave to him another hour to offer up a prayer.
Well, Providence to us proved kind; kept blood from every hand (4),
For an English vessel hove in sight on the Banks of Newfoundland.
VI
We hoisted aloft our signal; they bore down on us straightaway.
When they saw our pitiful condition, they began to weep and pray.
Five hundred souls we had on board when first we left the land
There’s now alive but seventy-five on the Banks of Newfoundland.
VII
They took us off that ship, me boys; we was more like ghosts than men.
They fed us and they clothed us and brought us back again.
They fed us and they clothed us, and brought us straight to land.
While the billowy waves roll o’er the graves on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Traduzione italiana Cattia Salto
I
Oh, potete benedire il vostro felice destino, tutti voi che abitate sulla riva,
perché conoscete molto poco delle difficoltà che noi poveri marinai sopportiamo./Sì, sapete proprio poco delle difficoltà che siamo stati costretti a sopportare,
per quattordici giorni e quindici notti sui Banchi di Terranova.
II
La nostra nave, ha navigato tra il gelo e la neve dal giorno in cui abbiamo lasciato il Quebec, e se non avessimo camminato, ci saremmo congelati sul ponte./ Ma noi siamo veri marinai, che mai nave abbia avuto,/ il nostro Capitano, ogni giorno ci ha raddoppiato il grog, sui Banchi di Terranova.
III
Beh, non c’è mai stata nave, ragazzi, che abbia navigato nel mare occidentale, con le onde che arrivavano rotolando e si schiantavano sulle doghe./ La nostra nave costruita con legno non stagionato, aveva poco da stare a galla,/ l’uragano ci ha affrontato sui Banchi di Terranova..
IV
Beh, abbiamo digiunato per tredici giorni e notti, le nostre vettovaglie erano finite, la mattina del quattordicesimo giorno, abbiamo tirato a sorte/ Beh, il fato, è caduto sul figlio del Capitano, e pensando di avere un soccorso sottomano,/lo abbiamo risparmiato per un’altra notte sui Banchi di Terranova
V
La mattina del quindicesimo giorno non apparve nessuna nave.
gli abbiamo dato un’altra ora per dire una preghiera./Bene, la Provvidenza ci si è mostrata gentile a tenere lontano il sangue dalle nostre mani,
perchè avvistammo una nave inglese  sui Banchi di Terranova.
VI
Abbiamo issato in alto il nostro segnale; si sono subito diretti verso di noi./ Quando videro la nostra pietosa condizione, cominciarono a piangere  e a pregare./ di cinquecento anime che avevamo a bordo quando abbiamo lasciato la terra, erano ora vive solo settantacinque sui Banchi di Terranova
VII
Ci hanno portato via da quella nave, ragazzi; eravamo più fantasmi che uomini.
Ci hanno nutrito e vestito e riportati indietro
Ci hanno nutrito e vestito e riportati dritto a terra.
Mentre le onde  fluttuavano sulle tombe nei Banchi di Terranova.

NOTE
1) luck
2) quello che tirava la paglia più corta era il “vincitore”, e si sacrificava per il bene dei sopravvissuti, questa pratica era definita “legge del mare
3) un luogo comune perchè nelle ballate sul cannibalismo in mare tocca sempre al giovane mozzo
4)  la giustapposizione tra le due strofe con l’uomo pronto per il sacrificio e l’avvistamento all’alba della nave che li soccorrerà, vuole mitigare la cruda realtà del cannibalismo, una pratica orribile a dirsi ma che è sempre in agguato nei momenti di disperazione e come risorsa estrema per la sopravvivenza vedasi “The Ship in Distress

Si confrontino
la versione irlandese:
Eddie Butcher
1968 dall’archivio ITMA
Andy Irvine in Abocurragh, 2010  (testo qui)

la versione americana:
Mabel Worcester
 1967 dall’archivio digitale dell’Università del Maine 

transportation song
la pesca sui Banchi
the Eastern Light
morte del capitano (ballata americana)
naufragio e soccorso sui Banchi (ballata canadese)

 

FONTI
https://www.itma.ie/digital-library/sound/banks_of_newfoundland_eddie_butcher
http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-BanksNewfoundland.html
https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/songstorysamplercollection/18/
http://gestsongs.com/02/banks6.htm