Greenland Whale Fisheries

‘Twas in eighteen hundred and fifty-three
In June, the thirteenth day
That our gallant ship her anchor weighed
And for Greenland sailed away, brave boys
And for Greenland sailed away.

The lookout on the cross-trees stood
With a spyglass in his hand
There’s a whale, there’s a whale
There’s a whalefish, he cried,
And she blows at every span, brave boys
She blows at every span.

The captain stood on the quarterdeck
And a fine little man was he
Overhaul! Overhaul!
Let your davit-tackles fall
And launch your boats for sea, brave boys
And launch your boats for sea.

The boats where launched with the men aboard
And the whale was in full view
Resolv-ed was each seaman bold
To steer where the whalefish blew, brave boys
To steer where the whalefish blew.


We struck that whale, and the line played out
But she gave a flourish with her tale
The boat capsized and four men were drowned
And we never caught that whale, brave boys
And we never caught that whale.

To lose that whale, our captain said
It grieves my heart full sore
But, oh, to lose four gallant men
It grieves me ten times more, brave boys
It grieves me ten times more.

The winter star doth now appear
So, boys, we’ll anchor weigh
It’s time to leave this cold country
And homeward bear away, brave boys
And homeward bear away.

Oh, Greenland is a dreadful place
A land that’s never green
Where there’s ice and snow
And the whale fishes blow
And daylight’s seldom seen, brave boys
And daylight’s seldom seen.