Sunday, 22 July 2012

I Will Bring You Home

 Lyrics and music by Marion Parsons © 2004

The story of Reuben and Albert Crewe, a father and son who died in the Newfoundland sealing disaster of 1914; see below for further notes.



I’ve had enough of swiling ships, the squalor and the gore
The Harlaw sank beneath me and I said I’d hunt no more
But Albert John was just sixteen and bound to try his hand
Along I went for one more run aboard the Newfoundland

    Stay right by me, follow to my lead
    They’ll work you twice what you can take and pay you half your need
    Your ma and me, we couldn’t see to send you out alone
    I brought you to this frozen waste, and I will bring you home.

The ship was jinked right from the pier, our dreams were dark and strange
The shifting floes they jammed her in, the whitecoats out of range
The glass showed dirty weather on a dawn as red as fire
For half the day we crossed on foot in search of Kean’s desire.

    Stay right by me, follow to my lead
    To chase a captain’s folly and to serve an owner’s greed
    Your ma and me, we couldn’t see to send you out alone
    I brought you to this frozen waste, and I will bring you home.

A chilling wind caught up the snow to drift and hide the trail
A whisper rose, “They’ll be no man alive to tell the tale,”
With songs and thoughts of home they faced a night out in the cold
But of that long night’s miseries, the half cannot be told.

    Stay right by me, follow to my lead
    What hope we have is to be men and stay upon our feet
    Your ma and me, we couldn’t see to send you out alone
    I brought you to this frozen waste, and I will bring you home.

The daylight rose and crossed the sky, again was falling low
We reached the end of faith and strength and sank into the snow
How little can a poor man do to keep a son from harm
I wrapped him in my guernsey and I locked him in my arms.

    Stay right by me, follow to my lead
    And if your hour is come, me by’e, then let it come for me
    Your ma and me, we couldn’t see to send you out alone
    I brought you to this frozen waste, and I will bring you home.





I wrote this as a follow-up song to my Newfoundland Sealing Disaster in order to tell the same story from a different perspective.  When I wrote the line “and father took son in his arms to hide him from the wind” (in the other song), I was thinking of Reuben and Albert Crewe: they were found frozen in each other’s arms, with the father’s coat wrapped around the son, and their bodies were transported home that way.

My source was Cassie Brown’s book Death on the Ice; you can find a brief online article about the Crewes’ story here.  Kean in the second verse refers to a sealing captain who was legendary for both his success in finding seals and his indifference to the sealers’ welfare.

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