"Lord Franklin's Lament"


We were homeward bound one night on the deep
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew.

With 100 seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek a passage around the pole
Where we poor sailors do sometimes go.

Through cruel hardships they vainly strove
Their ships on mountains of ice was drove
Only the Eskimo with his skin canoe
Was the only one that ever came through

In Baffin's Bay where the whale fish blow
The fate of Franklin no man may know
The fate of Franklin no tongue can tell
Lord Franklin among his seamen do dwell

And now my burden it gives me pain
For my Lord Franklin I'd sail the main
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To know Lord Franklin, and where he lives.



Some interesting history about Lord Franklin's journey:

British Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, born on April 16, 1786, discovered the Northwest Passage, but disappeared in the course of the exploration. Entering the Royal Navy in 1800, he saw service in the battles of Copenhagen, Trafalgar, and New Orleans. His seamanship, courage, and resourcefulness led to his appointment to command an overland exploring expedition from York Factory on Hudson Bay to the Artic. Between 1819 and 1822, Franklin followed the Coppermine River and traced the shoreline east of Coronation Gulf, covering about 8,930 km (5,550 mi).

In a second expedition (1825-27) he descended the Mackenzie River and explored the region west of the river's mouth. In recognition of these services, he was knighted in 1829.

After serving (1836-43) as governor of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), Franklin was sent in search of the Northwest Passage in 1845. His ships, Erebus and Terror, were last seen in Baffin Bay on July 25 or 26, 1845.

When nothing was heard from the party, no fewer than 40 expeditions were sent to find him. In 1854, Dr. John Rae of the Hudson's Bay Company found the first proof that Franklin's vessels had sunk. In 1859, Leopold McClintock, commanding Fox, a search vessel outfitted by Lady Franklin, discovered a cairn that revealed Sir John had died on June 11, 1847, in King William's Land and had, in fact, found the Northwest Passage. Further expeditions were sent to the Arctic, but they simply confirmed the earlier discoveries.

Not until the 20th century did a ship traverse the Northwest Passage. Roald Amundsen sailed from Oslo on the Gjoa in 1903, spent almost two years on King William Island, and then followed the Canadian coast westward. He reached Cape Nome, Alaska, in August 1906 and sailed on to San Francisco.


- Return to Recorder Music Listening Page -