Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

The Arctic Voyagers, Or Lady Franklin's Lament For Her Husband (1853)

As near the beach I one morn did roam,
I met a fair lady ; who, all alone
In grief lamenting, cried pity me,
And send send my sailor safe o'er the sea.
And as in sorrow she did bewai!,
She said from England my love did sail,
In health and vigour, with heart alive.
In Eighteen hundred and forty five.

She cried what troubles I have gone through
For noble Franklin and all his crew.

From me my darling, alas ! did stray,
To the frozen regions, in the month of May,
Three heatty cheers bid the ships adieu,
With noble Franklin, and his brave crew.
Through storms and tempests, through frost and snow,
What they encountered no one does know.
Tell me ye mermaids, if in the deep
Brave Franklin with his sailors sleep.

Oh, no ! Oh, no ! that never be
They are far away, o'ere the raging sea,
To ease my sorrow, my grief, and pain,
They must to England return again.
Oh ! heavenly father, who dwells on high,
Who beholds the mother and the orphan cry,
Thou alone, only him can save,
The British tars from the briny wave.

Oh, God, all dangers protect them through,
Guide noble Franklin and all his crew,
Who for seven years through the ice did roam,
Bring them safe again to their native home.
Oft on my pillow I with grief am tossed,
I think poor Franklin and all are lost,
But angels whisper, and say--dont weep,
Your husband's safe on the briny deep.

Or, if Britannia could only view
The noble Franklin and his long-lost crew,
All safe and well to their homes arrive,
Happy and joyful, and all alive.
Return her thanks on her bended knees,
To Him who wafts them across the seas,
In glorious accents will raise her voice,
And all Great Britain will rejoice.

You pretty maidens come join with me,
And pray for them on the briny sea,
God will protect them while on the main,
And safe to England bring them again,
No pen can write, no tongue unfold,
What they endured in the piercing cold,
Oh, God on high listen to our prayers,
Our troubles ease and dry up our tears.

Dry up our sorrows and ease our pain,
And send brave Franklin back again.


From the Tasmanian Newspaper the Hobarton Guardian, or, True Friend of Tasmania Saturday 15 October 1853 p. 3.

Dave de Hugard writes:-
'The Hobarton Guardian' version of 'Lady Franklin's Lament of 1853 is certainly an early version of the song. For your interest I attach the following extract:
'...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...'
This Hobart version (1853) precedes 'the first proof that Franklin's vessels had sunk (1854).'


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory