#00068
Old Polina (Collected by Gerald S. Doyle) w/score & video
See also: Old Polina (Paddy Gearin)
And also: The Balena (Newfoundland Traditional)

sheet music


       #755: YouTube video by quickaccent2006 ©2008.
                   ~ Used with permission ~

There's a noble fleet of whalers a-sailing from Dundee,
Manned by British sailors to take them o'er the sea;
On a western ocean passage we started on the trip,
And we flew along just like a song in our gallant whaling ship.

For the wind was on her quarter and the engines working free.
There's not another whaler that sailed the Arctic Sea,
Can beat the Old Polina, you need not try, my sons,
For we challenged all both great and small from Dundee to St. John's.

'Twas the second Sunday morning, just after leaving port,
We met a heavy Southwest gale that washed away our boat;
It washed away our quarter deck, our stanchions just as well,
And so we set the whole she-bang a-floating in the gale.

Art Jackson set his canvas, Fairweather got up steam,
And Captain Guy, the daring boy, came plunging through the stream;
And Mullins in the Husky tried to beat the blooming lot,
But to beat the Old Polina was something he could not.

For the wind was on her quarter and the engines working free.
There's not another whaler that sailed the Arctic Sea,
Can beat the Old Polina, you need not try, my sons,
For we challenged all both great and small from Dundee to St. John's.

There's the noble Terra Nova, a model without doubt.
The Arctic and Aurora they talk so much about;
Art Jackman's model mail boat - the terror of the sea,
Tried to beat the Old Polina on a passage from Dundee.

For the wind was on her quarter and the engines working free.
There's not another whaler that sailed the Arctic Sea,
Can beat the Old Polina, you need not try, my sons,
For we challenged all both great and small from Dundee to St. John's.

And now we're back in old St. John's where rum is very cheap,
So we'll drink a health to Captain Guy who brought us o'er the deep;
A health to all our sweethearts and to our wives so fair,
Not another ship could make the trip but the Polina I declare.

For the wind was on her quarter and the engines working free.
There's not another whaler that sailed the Arctic Sea,
Can beat the Old Polina, you need not try, my sons,
For we challenged all both great and small from Dundee to St. John's.

####.... Author unknown. Original Newfoundland song ....####
Published in Gerald S. Doyle's Old-Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers (Third edition, pp.44-45, 1955).

Also published on pp.13-14 of Songs Of Newfoundland, a complimentary booklet of lyrics to twenty-one songs distributed by the Bennett Brewing Co. Ltd., of St. John's, NL, with the cooperation of the Gerald S. Doyle Song Book from which these lyrics were obtained.

The YouTube video above features a variant recorded as The Old Polina by Fergus O'Byrne (Another Time: The Songs Of Newfoundland, trk#1, 1991, produced by Kelly Russell and Don Walsh, and recorded at Dadyeen Studios, St. John's, NL).

From Wikipedia:
Old Polina - a traditional Newfoundland folk song, most likely based on the ship Polynia, built in 1861, of the Dundee Seal and Whale Fishing Company fleet. The Polynia was commanded by Captain William Guy from 1883 to 1891, when it was sunk by ice in Davis Strait. This song is similar to another song called The Balaena, about another whaler. Every year, the whaling fleet would sail from Dundee, Scotland to Newfoundland, there to pick up men to hunt the whales. Since the first ships to make it to Newfoundland would be able to pick the most experienced men, it became a bit of a competition to see who could make it in the fastest time. The other ships named in the song, the Arctic, the Aurora, the Terra Nova, and the Husky, are all ships from the Dundee Seal and Whale Fishing Company fleet. The Aurora was the ship that rescued the crew of the Polynia in 1891 when it sunk. Art Jackson, Mullins, and Fairweather were a couple of the captains of the ships at that time. There are records of a Captain Fairweather in command of the Balaena (mentioned in 1894 and 1896), an Alex Fairweather in command of the Terra Nova (1885-1893), and a J. Fairweather for the Aurora (1882-1886).

A very similar variant was recorded by Great Big Sea as Old Polina (The Hard And The Easy, trk#2, 2005, WEA, Toronto, Ontario; Great Big DVD, 2004).


See more songs by Great Big Sea.





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