Henry's Songbook

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Farewell to Tarwathie

  • George Scroggie

    Farewell to Tarwathie, adieu Mormond Hill
    And the dear land of Crimond, I bid you farewell
    I'm bound out for Greenland and ready to sail
    In hopes to find riches in hunting the whale

    Farewell to my comrades, for a while we must part
    And likewise the dear lass who first won my heart
    The cold coast of Greenland my love will not chill
    And the longer my absence, more loving she'll feel

    Our ship is well rigged and she's ready to sail
    The crew they are anxious to follow the whale
    Where the icebergs do fall and the stormy winds blow
    Where the land and the ocean is covered with snow

    The cold coast of Greenland is barren and bare
    No seed-time nor harvest is ever known there
    And the birds here sing sweetly in mountain and dale
    But there's no bird in Greenland to sing to the whale

    There is no habitation for a man to live there
    And the king of that country is the fierce Greenland bear
    And there'll be no temptation to tarry long there
    With our ship bumper full we will homeward repair

    Repeat 1

    (as sung by Judy Collins)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1967:] Chase of right whales, West Greenland, c. 1850.
    By the 1840s, British whaling reached a low ebb [...]. But during the 1850s, the industry began to look up, for the introduction of steam power meant that whalers could push to new grounds far to the north, and then batter their way back through some fifty miles of pack ice until the open sea was reached again. The first whaling steamer set out from Hull in 1857, but the most famous whalers under steam power were those that sailed out of Dundee [...].

    The stereotype of the oldtime whaleman is of a hairychested ring-tailed roarer, hard worker, hard drinker, hard fighter. No doubt the description fitted many of them; nevertheless they often showed strong liking for gentle meditative songs. Perhaps alone among all the songs on this record, Farewell to Tarwathie was made not by a whaleman but by a miller, George Scroggie of Federate, near Aberdeen, around the middle of the nineteenth century. The tune is an old favourite, best known in connection with the song called The Green Bushes. (Notes A. L. Lloyd, 'Leviathan!')

  • [1976:] In the 19th century in the North East of Scotland there was as in other parts of the world at that time a thriving whaling industry which now almost have died out with the possible exceptions of Japan and Russia who still fish for the whale on a large scale. There is no record of a place called Tarwathie remaining - though it is believed to have been in Aberdeenshire. (Notes Finbar & Eddie Furey, 'The Farewell Album')

  • [1993:] There is, interestingly, an old whaling song that is still sung to-day - Farewell tae Tarwathie, written by George Scrogie, a miller at Fedderate, New Deer, in the early 1850s. This haunting beautiful song was recorded by Judy Collins in a long-playing record called 'Whales and Nightingales'. Behind the voice of the singer can be heard the wailing of the whales, a sad sound, as if they were crying out against their fate. Tarwathie is a farm in the lap of Mormond Hill, near the village of Strichen, and the song tells the story of a lad who left there to seek his fortune at the whaling [...]. There are three Tarwathies near Mormond Hill, but no one has ever been able to find out what happened to their whaler boy. (Smith, Whale Hunters 39)

Quelle: Scotland

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