#00731
Ferryland, Newfoundland ca.1500-1993 (Howard Kaplan) score
sheet music
sheet music

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Pharaohs of Egypt drew wealth from the Nile,
The sands of the desert have covered their tombs;
Ashes and cinders blown down from Vesuvius,
Hid the mosaics that line Pompeii's rooms.

Earthworms in England have undermined Rome,
Where the ancient foundations are buried in soil;
Sand, ash, and earth are but three of the substances,
Keeping our past from decay, rot, and spoil.

Here, in the pool that forms Ferryland harbour,
We've no fine mosaics, no emeralds, no thrones;
Still, we find traces of races of men,
Who once followed the cod and discarded its bones.

Summer following summer, ships from Europe crossed,
Underneath these waters, cod bones dumped or tossed;
Settled in layers like ash from Vesuvius,
Capturing what was discarded or lost.

This is no land for the planting of olive trees,
Cotton or citrus or cocoa or cane;
This is a land where the barren, cold bedrock,
Slopes into the water, its surfaces plain.

Men who own hillsides of vineyards and orange groves,
Never would see any value in that;
Men from the shores of the rough North Atlantic,
Could read these plain surfaces, dry, hard, and flat.

This was a shore fit for processing cod,
As usurious merchants made annual loans;
Financing crews to build piers, flakes, and stages,
To dry the soft codflesh and leave the hard bones.

Summer following summer, ships from Europe crossed,
Underneath these waters, cod bones dumped or tossed;
Settled in layers like ash from Vesuvius,
Capturing what was discarded or lost.

Beothuks, Bretoniers, Basque men and Bristol men,
Made these deposits of codbone grow thick;
Mixed with the bones we find jars from Iberia,
North Devon earthenware, fragments of brick.

Part of a jacket of waterproof leather,
A dissident Staffordshire chamber-pot shard;
Onion-shaped bottles, and remnants of wicker work,
Such are the treasures where cod bones stand guard.

Here lies a ship. Touch the oak and imagine,
The fierce storm that sinks her; the hull creaks and groans.
Some of the crewmen, perhaps, live to fish again.
Heavy with ballast, her hull joins the bones.

Summer following summer, ships from Europe crossed,
Underneath these waters, cod bones dumped or tossed;
Settled in layers like ash from Vesuvius,
Capturing what was discarded or lost.

What do we mean by a term such as "history"?
Words that some scholar has carefully placed?
Can it be written by building a monument,
Layer by layer, from harbourside waste?

This is our great work of Ferryland history,
Not some cathedral or pyramid, no!
Only the bones that drift down through the water,
Irregular flakes of unmeltable snow.

How shall we live, if not out on the water,
Our passage made safe by the foghorn's sad tones?
Now we must fear that our history ends,
When we cannot add more to the layers of bones.

Summer following summer, ships from Europe crossed,
Underneath these waters, cod bones dumped or tossed;
Settled in layers like ash from Vesuvius,
Capturing what was discarded or lost.

####.... Howard L Kaplan (thrinberry-frog.com) ©1997. Performing rights administered by SOCAN. All rights reserved ....####
From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Flake - platform built on poles and spread with boughs for drying cod-fish on the foreshore.
Stage - elevated platform on the shore with working tables, sheds, etc, where fish are landed and processed for salting and drying, and fishing gear and supplies are stored; fishing stage.



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