Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Three Fishers

I am excited to have come across a book with letters and memories of Charles Kingsley. In the book they have a 'fac simile' of his poem 'The Three Fishers' which was turned into a folk song and became an anthem for the Christian Socialist Movement.

- For men must work and women must weep

Here is a text of the poem:

Three fishers went sailing out into the West,
Out into the West as the sun went down;
Each thought on the woman who lov’d him the best;
And the children stood watching them out of the town;
For men must work, and women must weep,
And there's little to earn, and many to keep,
Though the harbor bar be moaning.

Three wives sat up in the light-house tower,
And they trimm’d the lamps as the sun went down;
They look’d at the squall, and they look’d at the shower,
And the night rack came rolling up ragged and brown!
But men must work, and women must weep,
Though storms be sudden, and waters deep,
And the harbor bar be moaning.

Three corpses lay out on the shining sands
In the morning gleam as the tide went down,
And the women are weeping and wringing their hands
For those who will never come back to the town;
For men must work, and women must weep,
And the sooner it ’s over, the sooner to sleep—
And good-by to the bar and its moaning.

 According to wikipedia in the last line the word 'bar' refers to the sand bar in the harbour and the tradition that it is a bad omen to hear the wind wailing over the sand bar.

I do have an interest in Kingsley and I must admit I haven't come across this song / poem before but it is certainly striking. Apparently in Victorian times the song was quite popular. Kingsley was involved in the Christian Socialist Movement and this poem could probably be said to have started a movement that woulld change the world.

Here is a picture I have taken of the handwritten version from the book I have just discovered:

You might have to click on the picture to expand it.

There are a couple of youtube videos of the song, it is an incredible song. This is a version that I like by from 'Live at Barry's House'. The singer, I believe, is Hannah Lynch from Dungannon, a fellow Norn Irelander.

Joan Baez also sings a greater version. Click here.

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