#01578 Print This Page
As I roved out one evening I sat down to take rest,
I saw a boy scarce four years old close to his mother's breast,
Saying, "Once I had a father dear who did me kind embrace,
If he was here he would wipe the tears roll down my mother's face.
"Oh mother, oh mother, come tell to me, oh mother come tell me why,
Why don't my father's ship come home, why do you sob and cry?
All other ships are coming home leaving the white waves foam,
But my father's ship is not come yet, what makes her tarry long?"
"Your father's ship, my darling child, his face you never shall see,
For the hurricane of the ocean sweeps his body in the sea;
The fish that's in the water swims over young father's breast,
And his body lies in motion, and I hope his soul's at rest."
"Right well I do remember when he took me on his knee,
Saying, 'Here's a bird and fruit I've brought from deep o'er India's sea,'
Right well I do remember when he wove his hat in hand,
These words he spoke: 'God bless you both,' as he sailed from the land."
"The ocean is wide and fathoms deep, as the earth is from the sky,
There's a heaven above, my darling child, there's a home for you and I;
You're the only one that's leaved to me and I press you to my side,"
Where they both lay down together and the son and mother died.
Collected in 1958 from Mrs. Charlotte Decker of Parson's Pond, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.795-796, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that this late, sentimental ballad was found previously by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield and included as #113, The Gentle Boy, in their Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968.) Peacock also commented that he had not seen it in other collections.
A variant was collected in 1951 from John James of Trepassey, NL, and published as My Daddy's Ship in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A variant was also collected in 1977 from Annie Green of Francois, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #120, Why Don't Father's Ship Come In? in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, p.203, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).
Genevieve Lehr noted that this was one of Annie Green's favourite songs, and that there is a large body of such songs which are sung with great emotion and are evidently very meaningful to the men and women who often call for them.
A variant was recorded as The Widow's Lament by Tommy Nemec singing acapella the songs he heard sung by his grandfather, John P. Myrick, and Thomas C. Finlay at house parties in St. Shotts and on Cape Pine, NL (Songs From The Cape, trk#7, 2003, Backcove Music, St. John's, NL, recorded at the Cape Pine Lightstation).