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Bound down for Newfoundland

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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.

A long narrative tradition in Newfoundland is inspired by events and people of local significanc, so sea ballads speak of shipwrecks and calamities. (see more)
One particular theme is presented with various titles (The Schooner Mary Ann, Banks of Newfoundland) and variations starting from an American ballad of the late 1800 authored by captain Cale White entitled Bound Down To Newfoundland (Roud No. 647) and spread equally in Nova Scotia.

Graham Herbert ~ Off To Sea (Canada)

On St. Patrick’s Day, the seventeenth from New York we set sail

Also with the title “Bound down for Newfoundland” the ballad narrates the death of the young captain, struck by smallpox, on board the American schooner Mary Ann (or the brigantine the Eveline): probably it is a fishing ship heading to the Newfoundland Banks for the fishing season.
This particular version was collected by Helen Creighton [1899-1989] and published in Songs And Ballads From Nova Scotia.
To tell a sad story, mourning the young captain’s death, the matched melody is all too cheerful. The song is sometimes classified as an irish ballad.

The Corries from Bonnet, Belt & Sword 1967

Ryans Fancy  from Sullivan’s Gypsies 1970 ( I, III, IV, V)

On St. Patrick’s Day, the seventeenth
From New York we set sail
Kind fortune did favour us
Wi’ a sweet and a pleasant gale
We bore away from Americay
The wind bein’ off the land
And wi’ courage brave we ploughed the wave Bound down for Newfoundland
Our Captain’s name was Nelson
Just twenty years of age
As true and brave a sailor lad
As ever ploughed the wave
The Eveline our brig (1) was called
Belonging to McLean
And wi’ courage brave we ploughed the wave
Bound down for Newfoundland
When three days out to our surprise
Our Captain he fell sick
He shortly was not able
To take his turn on deck
The fever raged which made us think
That death was near at hand
So we bore away from Halifax (1)
Bound down for Newfoundland
At three o’clock we sighted a light
That we were glad to see
The small-pox bein’ ragin’
That’s what it proved to be
At four o’clock in the afternoon
As sure as God’s command
He passed away in Arichat (2)
Bound down for Newfoundland
All that night long we did lament
For our departed friend
And we were prayin’ unto God
For what had been his end
We prayed that God would guide us
And keep us by his hand
And send us fair wind while at sea
Bound down for Newfoundland

1) Halifax (Nova Scotia): with the sick captain who knew the coast the ship had lost its points of reference
2) Arichat small village on the Isle Madame with two lighthouses, one at the entrance to the harbor and the other at Jerseyman Island

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



Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

folklorista delle Terre Celtiche

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