The Wreckers' Prayer

Original Text: 
Theodore Goodridge Roberts, The Leather Bottle (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1934): 46-47. Internet Archive.
3Wild grey frost creepin' like mortal sin
4And perishin' lack of bread in the bin.
5A grand, rich wrack, us do humbly pray,
6Busted abroad at the break o' day
7An' hove clear in 'crost Tops'il Reef,
8Wid victuals an' gear to beguile our grief.
9God of reefs an' tides an' sky,
10Heed Ye our need an' hark to our cry!
11Bread by the bag an' beef by the cask.
12Ease for sore bellies bes all we ask.
13One grand wrack--or maybe two?--
14Wid gear an' victuals to see through
15'Til Spring starts up like the leap of day
16An' the fish strike back into Tops'il Bay.
17One rich wrack--for Thy hand bes strong!
18A barque or a brig from up-along
19Bemused by Thy twisty tides, O Lard!
20For winter in Tops'il Tickle bes hard.
21Loud an' long will us sing Yer praise,
22Marciful Fadder, O Ancient of Days,
23Master of fog an' tide an' reef!
24Heave us a wrack to beguile our grief.
25                                                Amen.


1] "In the old days before the building of the lighthouses, the poor ."noddies." of many a Newfoundland outport prayed for wrecks--aye, and with easy consciences. Only the few hundreds of them who took to deep-sea voyaging ever learned anything of the world and its peoples. All the world excepting their own desolate bays and ."down Nort.", was ."up-along." to them. Montreal, Pernambuco, London, Oporto, Boston, Halifax--all were included in up-along to them; and up-along was a grand, rich place where all men were gentlemen wearing collars and coats, eating figgy-duff every day and smoking all they wanted to. The folk of up-along had the easy end of life; so why shouldn't they contribute something of their goods and gear to poor but honest noddies now and then, even if against their inclinations--aye, even if at the cost of their lives?" (poet's note). Back to Line
2] Tops'il Tickle: a Newfoundland community, Topsail (now Conception Bay) near the Tickle (a salt-water strait nearby). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: