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Three score and ten

This post has the words and a recording by ‘The Longest Johns’ for a sea shanty about a storm off the east coast of England, where many hundreds were lost from the fishing fleets. It has a particularly chilling chorus . . .

Me thinks I see a host of craft spreading their sails to lea,
As down the Humber they do glide all bound for the northern sea,
Me thinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave,
Going out to earn their daily bread upon the restless waves

And its three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby town,
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many hundreds more were drowned,
Our herring crafts, our trawlers, our fishing smacks as well,
They long defied that bitter night and battled with the swell.

Me thinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind,
Casting their nets into the sea the fishing shoals to find,
Me thinks I see them yet again and all on boards alright,
with the sails close reefed and the decks cleared up and the sidelights burning bright.

October’s night left such a sight was never seen before,
There were spars and shafts and broken yards come floating to the shore,
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many a heart so brave,
There was many a hearty fisherlad did find a watery grave.

Me thinks I hear the skipper say come lads come shorten sail,
for the sky to all appearances looks like an approaching gale,
Me thinks I see them yet again and the midnight hour is past,
their tiny crafts a battling there against the lay blast.