"Lady Franklin's Lament" (also known as "Lord Franklin" and "The Sailor's Dream") is a traditional folk ballad indexed by George Malcolm Laws (Laws K09) and Steve Roud (Roud 487).The song recounts the story of a sailor who dreams about Lady Franklin speaking of the loss of her husband, Sir John Franklin, who disappeared in Baffin Bay during his 1845 expedition through the Arctic Ocean in search of the Northwest Passage sea route to the Pacific Ocean. The song first appeared as a Broadside ballad around 1850 and has since been recorded with the melody of the Irish traditional air "Cailín Óg a Stór" by numerous artists. It has been found in Ireland, in Scotland, and in some regions of Canada.
The song consists of five verses using the AABB rhyme scheme. The song is told from the perspective of a sailor onboard a ship. He tells of a dream he had of Lady Jane Franklin speaking of the loss of her husband, Sir John Franklin, who disappeared in Baffin Bay during his 1845 expedition through the Arctic Ocean in search of a Northwest Passage sea route to the Pacific ocean. Following his disappearance, Lady Franklin sponsored seven expeditions to find some trace of her husband. Through her sponsorship, influence, and offering of sizeable rewards, she supported numerous other searches. Her efforts brought great publicity to the expedition's fate. In 1854, Scottish explorer Dr. John Rae discovered evidence through talking to Inuit hunters, among others that the expedition had wintered in 1845–46 on Beechey Island. The expedition's ships, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, became trapped in ice off King William Island in September 1846 and never sailed again. According to a note later found on that island, Franklin died there on 11 June 1847. The exact location of his grave remains unknown.
"Lady Franklin's Lament" first appeared as a broadside ballad around 1850.Found in Canada, Scotland, and Ireland, the song was first published in 1878 in Eighteen Months on a Greenland Whaler by Joseph P. Faulkner.
The song may have been inspired by the traditional Irish ballad "The Croppy Boy", which is set during the 1798 rising. Versions of that ballad first appeared shortly after the rising sung by street peddlers. Several broadside versions of the ballad were printed. These typically include the phrase "500 Guineas" or "one thousand pounds", and are also sung to the melody of the traditional Irish air "Cailín Óg a Stór".These versions of "The Croppy Boy" may have been the basis for the later ballad, "Lady Franklin's Lament".
The song shares a tune with the traditional air "Cailín Óg a Stór" and other folk songs including versions of "A Sailor's Life".
Several field recordings of the ballad were made in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, by collectors such as Edith Fowke, Helen Creighton and Herbert Halpert.
In 1941, Helen Hartness Flanders recorded the song from a man named William Merritt of Ludlow, Maine, USA, who had learnt the song from his Scottish mother; the recording is available online.
Three Scottish recordings were recorded in Whalsay in the Shetland islands in the early 1970s from men who probably either learnt the song at sea or from sailors. These recordings can be heard online courtesy of the University of Edinburgh.
"Lady Franklin's Lament" has been recorded by numerous artists. A version was recorded as "Lord Franklin" by Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Kevin Burke on their album Promenade (1979). Other notable renditions were recorded by Liam Clancy, Pentangle, Martin Carthy,John Renbourn, and Sinéad O'Connor.
Several variations and adaptations of the song have been recorded, such as version by the Duncan McFarlane Band, where the chorus of "Northwest Passage" is added to the end. Bob Dylan wrote his own lyrics to the song's melody—from the traditional air "Cailín Óg a Stór"—for his song "Bob Dylan's Dream", which appeared on his 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan . In his version, Dylan borrows lyrical ideas from "Lady Franklin's Lament". David Wilcox took a similar approach with his song "Jamie's Secret".
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 a hundred 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 were 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 alone with his sailors do dwell
And now my burden it gives me pain
For my long-lost Franklin I would cross the main
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To know on earth, that my Franklin do live
The Northwest Passage (NWP) is the sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The eastern route along the Arctic coasts of Norway and Siberia is accordingly called the Northeast Passage (NEP). The various islands of the archipelago are separated from one another and from the Canadian mainland by a series of Arctic waterways collectively known as the Northwest Passages or Northwestern Passages.
Sir John Franklin was a British Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer. After serving in wars against Napoleonic France and the United States, he led two expeditions into the Canadian Arctic, in 1819 and 1825, and served as Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land from 1839 to 1843. During his third and final expedition to force the Northwest Passage in 1845, Franklin's ships became icebound off King William Island in what is now Nunavut, where he died in June 1847. The icebound ships were abandoned ten months later and the entire crew died, from causes such as starvation, hypothermia, and scurvy.
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, this album represented the beginning of Dylan's writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan's original compositions. It opens with "Blowin' in the Wind", which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary soon after the release of the album. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan's best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right".
HMS Erebus was a Hecla-class bomb vessel constructed by the Royal Navy in Pembroke dockyard, Wales, in 1826. The vessel was the second in the Royal Navy named after Erebus, the dark region of Hades in Greek mythology.
HMS Resolute was a mid-19th-century barque-rigged ship of the British Royal Navy, specially outfitted for Arctic exploration. Resolute became trapped in the ice and was abandoned in 1854. Recovered by an American whaler, she was returned to Queen Victoria in 1856. Timbers from the ship were later used to construct the Resolute desk which was presented to the President of the United States and is currently located in the White House Oval Office.
Reynardine is a traditional old English ballad ; in versions most commonly sung and recorded today, Reynardine is a werefox who attracts beautiful women to him so that he can take them away to his castle. What fate meets them there is usually left ambiguous.
Nightnoise was a music ensemble active from 1984 to 1997. Their original blend of Irish traditional music, Celtic music, jazz, and classical chamber music inspired a generation of Irish musicians. They released seven albums on the Windham Hill label.
HMS Terror was a specialized warship and a newly developed bomb vessel constructed for the Royal Navy in 1813. She participated in several battles of the War of 1812, including the Battle of Baltimore with the bombardment of Fort McHenry. She was converted into a polar exploration ship two decades later, and participated in George Back's Arctic expedition of 1836–1837, the successful Ross expedition to the Antarctic of 1839 to 1843, and Sir John Franklin's ill-fated attempt to force the Northwest Passage in 1845, during which she was lost with all hands along with HMS Erebus.
"Bob Dylan's Dream" is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1963. It was recorded by Dylan on April 24, 1963, and was released by Columbia Records a month later on the album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
Jane, Lady Franklin was the second wife of the English explorer Sir John Franklin. During her husband's period as Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land, she became known for her philanthropic work and her travels throughout south-eastern Australia. After John Franklin's disappearance in search of the Northwest Passage, she sponsored or otherwise supported several expeditions to determine his fate.
George Malcolm Laws was a scholar of traditional British and American folk song.
Franklin's lost expedition was a British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed from England in 1845 aboard two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, and was assigned to traverse the last unnavigated sections of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic and to record magnetic data to help determine whether a better understanding could aid navigation. The expedition met with disaster after both ships and their crews, a total of 129 officers and men, became icebound in Victoria Strait near King William Island, in what is today the Canadian territory of Nunavut. After being icebound for more than a year, Erebus and Terror were abandoned in April 1848, by which point Franklin and nearly two dozen others had died. The survivors, now led by Franklin's second-in-command, Francis Crozier and Erebus' captain James Fitzjames, set out for the Canadian mainland and disappeared.
Celtic Folkweave is a studio album by Mick Hanly and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, released in 1974 by Polydor Records. Considered a seminal album in the traditional Irish music genre, the musicians involved in the recording would go on to found some of the most innovative and important groups to perform traditional Irish music.
The Fox was an 1854 steam yacht commanded by Leopold McClintock on a privately funded 1857–1859 expedition to the North American Arctic Archipelago to search for clues about the fate of Franklin's lost expedition.
"The Croppy Boy" is an Irish ballad set in 1798 rising relating to the despair of a doomed young "croppy" or rebel.
Cailín Óg a Stór is a traditional Irish melody, originally accepted for publication in March 1582. It may be the source of Pistol's cryptic line in Henry V, Caleno custure me. It is part of a broadside collection from 1584. The poem "The Croppy Boy" was set to this music, and it was later used for the tune of "Lord Franklin", which was the basis for the Bob Dylan song "Bob Dylan's Dream".
Isabel was a vessel intended to be used in four planned expeditions in search of the fate of Franklin's lost expedition between 1852 and 1856, although she only managed to reach the Arctic once, in 1852. All of these expeditions were sponsored by Lady Jane Franklin who also owned the vessel over most of this period, and expended much money for little result.
Skara Brae is an album of Irish traditional music by the group Skara Brae. Released by Gael Linn Records in 1971, the self-titled album contains "beautifully performed Gaelic songs" and is considered one of the most important albums in its genre, notable as the first recording to include vocal harmonization in Irish language songs.
Promenade is a studio album by Kevin Burke and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, released in 1979 by Mulligan Records.