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Harry Robertson has given us many songs of the sea. this one is about the times when whales were hunted off the coast of Norfolk island by men in open boats. Not an occupation for the faint hearted. Often the women on the cliff tops lit their return with lanterns.

GUITAR:Graham Seal; CONCERTINA: Tom Rummery


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Harry Robertson

High on the cliff tops of Norfolk's green isle
Women and children are waiting the while,
Far down below the whale boatmen row
As after the Humpback the Norfolk men go.

Now my love row and bring back to me.
The king of the ocean the prize of the sea

Each man in the boat strains hard at the oar,
They head for the whale and away from the shore.
Up in the bow the harpoon man stands,
The steel shafted harpoon clutched tight in his hands.

Ship the oars lads and quiet as we go.
The harpoon strikes deep and the blood starts to flow.
Then hell's violent fury breaks out on the waves.
One blow from its tail could mean watery graves.

For hours the whale drags the boat through the sea
Then tires from its effort to break the rope free.
Exhausted at last it floats in the sun
Sharp lances complete what the harpoon begun.

Back to the island t'will be a long row
If darkness comes down the lantern will glow
For high on the cliff-top the islanders stand
And wait for their men to return to the land.

With backs nearly broken and blistered hands sore
The boatmen return to the isle’s rocky shore
What joy on friends faces what pleasure to see
Their loved ones return with the prize of the sea.



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