The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #74823 Message #1308844
Posted By: Joe Offer
27-Oct-04 - 02:01 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Three Score and Ten
Subject: ADD Version: Three Score and Ten
Here's the version from Roy Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs (1986). Note that this version has only three stanzas, and the one in the DT and Bok/Muir/Trickett has four. Palmer mentions an 8-stanza version. Can we find that one?
THREE SCORE AND TEN
CHORUS: Methinks I see some little craft spreading their sails a-lee
And it's three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby town;
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many hundreds more were drowned.
Our herring craft, our trawlers, our fishing smacks as well.
They longed to fight that bitter night to battle with the swell.
As down the Humber they do glide all bound for the northern sea.
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave
Going out to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave.
Methinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind,
Casting their nets into the sea the fishing ground to find.
Methinks I see them yet again and all on board's all right,
With the sails flow free and the decks cleared up and the side-lights burning bright.
October's night was such a sight was never seen before:
There was masts, there was yards; broken spars came floating to our shore.
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many hearts so brave;
There was many a hearty fisherlad did find a watery grave.
'In Memoriam of the poor Fishermen who lost their lives in the Dreadful Gale from Grimsby and Hull, Feb. 8 & 9, 1889' is the title of a broadside produced by a Grimsby fisherman, William Dell, to raise funds for the bereaved families. It eight lost vessels, the last two from Hull: Eton, John Wintringham Sea Searcher, Sir Fred. Roberts, British Workman, Kitten, Harold, Adventure and Olive Branch. In addition the names of some of the lost sailors are given, and there is a poem in eight stanzas. This passed into oral tradition, and in so doing lost six verses and acquired a new one (the last, in which an error of date occurs), together with a chorus and a tune. The oral version was noted from a master mariner, Mr J. Pearson of Filey, in 1957, and has subsequently, with some further small variations, become well known in folk-song clubs.
28 April 2011: See discussion below and note this much-disputed line in the chorus, as Palmer has it:They longed to fight that bitter night to battle with the swell.Seems to me that it must be something different, since the Palmer version doesn't quite make sense. I think I'd interpret it as "they long did fight."