“The Old Polina”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1955 (Doyle)
Keywords: ship whaler racing bragging
Found in: Canada(Newf)

Description

"There's a noble fleet of whalers a-sailing from Dundee... There's not another whaler that sails the Arctic Sea Can beat the old Polina, you need not try, my sons." The singer describes all the various ships which failed to outrace the Polina

Supplemental text

Old Polina, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Edith Fowke, Alan Mills, and Helmut Blume, Canada's Story in
Song (undated), pp. 165-166. Listed as being from Doyle (presumably
the third edition).

There's a noble fleet of whalers a-sailing from Dundee,
Manned by British sailors to take them o'er the sea,
On a western ocean passage we started on the trip,
And we flew along just like a song in our gallant whaling ship.

REFRAIN: For the wind was on her quarter and the engines working free,
         There's not another whaler that sails the Arctic Sea
         Can beat the old Polina, you need not try, my sons,
          For we challenged all, both great and small, from Dundee to St. John's.

(4 additional stanzas)

Notes

GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador site claims the song was written in the 1880s.

The notes to A.L. Lloyd's _Leviathan!_ for "The Balaena" makes this whaler R. Kinnes's _Balaena_, the "largest and fastest" of the 1873 Dundee whaling fleet. According to the Dundee City Council site, it "sailed its last voyage in 1892 under Captain Alexander Fairweather." That's a different explanation than the sinking of the Polynia proposed by the GEST site. - BS

It's worth noting that Lloyd's seems to be the only one calling the ship the _Balena_ or anything similar. One suspects either an error of hearing as the song transferred to Britain or a Canadian adaption. The notes in Fowke/Mills/Blume also associate the song with the _Polynia_, lost in the Straits of Belle Isle in 1884. . - RBW

Historical references

Cross references

References

  1. Fowke/Mills/Blume, pp. 165-166, "The Old 'Polina'" (1 text, tune referenced)
  2. Fowke/MacMillan 15, "The Old 'Polina'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Blondahl, pp. 22-23, "The Old Polina" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Doyle3, pp. 44-45, "Old Polina" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. ST FMB165 (Partial)
  6. Roud #285
  7. BI, FMB165