104 - Windy Old Weather

Words by traditional
Tune by traditional

Transcribed from a recording of Joe Latter, this song appears on some broadsides as The Fishes’ Lamentation and seems to have survived as a sailor’s chantey or fisherman’s song. Whall (1910), Colcord (1938) and Hugill (1964) include it in their chantey books. It was also recorded from Bob Roberts on board his Thames barge, The Cambria and appears in the Newfoundland and Nova Scotia collections of Ken Peacock and Helen Creighton.

As we were a fishing off Happisburgh Light,
Shooting and trawling and hauling all night.
It was…

Windy old weather, stormy old weather.


When the wind blows we all pull together

We first saw the herring, the queen of the sea.
She says ‘you old skipper you’ll never catch me’
In this…

We next saw the mackerel, with stripes on his back
‘Time you old skipper to change your port tack’
In this…

We then saw the plaice, with spots on her side.
She says ‘you old skipper, these seas you can’t ride’
In this…

We next saw a thresher, as strong as a horse.
He says ‘you old skipper, you’re miles off your course’
In this…

We next saw the conga, as long as a mile.
‘Wind’s rising easterly’ he says with a smile.
In this…

Now I think what these fishes is saying is right.
So we’ll haul in our nets and we’ll make for the Light
In this…