#00406
The Shooting Of The Bawks (Arthur R Scammell) MIDI
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(Sung to The Wearin' O' The Green)

O Mary, dear, and did you hear the news I heard today?
We're only 'lowed to kill a bird up to the middle o' May.
Now isn't it a cruel shame, this thing that they have done!
And so says Tom, and so says Bill, and so says everyone.
I met with Skipper Neddy, and he took me by the hand,
And he said: "Now what's the news, my boy,
And how's poor Newfoundland?"
Says I, "Next summer, Neddy, we'll have to live on hawks,
For there's a bloody law agin the killin' of the bawks."

I bought a muzzleloader, a month or two ago,
And up to now I've only killed a dozen birds or so;
But by and by in May month, I thought that I would shine,
And get her off at bigger lots, and knock down eight or nine.
But as I'm a law-abiding man, as you may understand,
I'll have to fire beach-rocks at the kingbirds from the land;
They're tryin' to starve an honest man who has the nerve and pluck,
For there's a bloody law agin the killin' of the duck.

Now where's the gravy comin' from, will someone tell to me,
In summer when there's nought to eat but bread and fish and tea?
The ones who made this law can sit, eat chicken, drink port wine,
But how about the poor old ghost who hauls a fishing line?
He has to watch the bawks flock 'round, upon a foggy day,
And watch them rob his trawls of bait, and watch them fly away;
He's not allowed to shoot them, or someone sure will squawk,
For there's a bloody law agin the killin' of a bawk.

No doubt our wise commissioners will formulate a plan,
To furnish fresh for everyone who lives in Newfoundland;
They've got a million pounds, I hear, from over 'cross the sea,
They want it all to feed the men who in the pen will be.
For Mary, dear, I like a bird in August, June or May,
And if they put me in the pen, why there I'll have to stay;
For men with children underfed would not mind being sued,
And the judge will not condemn a man for getting food.

Now when the bawks stop flying, and the noddies stay at home,
And the bosun and the puffin, no longer they do roam,
Then I will give up shooting in the good old summertime,
I'll take the breadbox, kettle, pot, and leave the gun behind.
But till that day shall come, my boys, I'm sure you will agree,
That birds that fly in summertime should nourish you and me;
Now bawks have got a fishy taste, as everybody knows,
But they make a better diet, boys, than either hawks or crows.

There's many men in summertime who cannot buy salt meat,
They have to trust to seabirds for something fresh to eat;
But if they keep this law that's passed, they will not get a taste
Of bawk or noddy, tinker, turr, and not a tickleace.
So you who made this law prepare and send us all a meal
From time to time of good fresh beef, or mutton, pork or veal.
And don't forget, my bully boys, a chicken now an' then,
As yet there's neither law agin the killin' of a hen.

####.... Arthur R Scammell (c.1938) ....####
See more songs by Arthur R Scammell.

Published on p.79 of Old Time Songs and Poetry of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers, Second Edition, 1940, printed by the publishers of The Family Fireside For Gerald S Doyle, St John's. The song ridicules the regulations introduced by Commission of Government in 1938 to control seabird hunting.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:

Bawk - greater shearwater (Puffinus gravis); hagdown.
Bosun - Arctic skua (Stercorarius pomarinus; pomarine jaeger.
King bird - king eider (Somateria spectabilis); kingdrake; kingduck.
Noddy - Atlantic fulmar (fulmarus glacialis glacialis).
Puffin - Atlantic common puffin (Fratercula arctica); sea-parrot (adopted as the official provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador).
Tickleace - Atlantic black-legged kittewake (Rissa triclacta).
Tinker - razor-billed auk (Alca torda).
Turr - Murre (Uria aalge aalge).



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