Wiscasset Schooners

            Words and Music © 1985 Lois Lyman


            Lois made this song for the cargo schooners that were beached in the river of Wiscasset Maine where she spent many days of her childhood clambering over their hulls.  She taught me this song and we arranged it.  Lois, her husband, and I recorded it together on my album "Schooners" and here t is in the original TBM version, with all our thanks.  (GB)


            Do you remember riding home before a dying summer breeze,

            Your topsails gleaming golden, setting sun among the trees,

            And the osprey wheeling slowly through the shadows by the shore,

            Where the towering cliffs of granite plunge ten fathoms deep or more,

            And the eddies swirl and flow down below.


            You were solid-built of Douglas fir and oak and yellow pine,

            Two hundred feet, sailed by a crew that numbered only nine,

            Hauling lumber through your timberports, and dyewood from the south

            Running home from Norfolk bringing coal to heat the north

            And whatever they could stow down below.


            For the winter is upon you now, and time is passing slow

            And the tides ebb and flow down below.


            You served them well for fifteen years, your canvass all unfurled

            When New England sailing ships were found in ports around the world,

            But spars gave way to smokestacks, clouds of white to black and grey,

            There was nothing left for you to do but waste your time away.

            And the rot was spreading slow, down below.


            And the winter…


            From Wiscasset to the China Lakes the Narrow Gauge did run,

            To push it northward to Quebec was old Frank Winter's plan –

            And schooners were to bring his cargoes in to meet the train,

            When he found you idle on the dock, he brought you down to Maine

            Where the tides ebb and flow down below.


            You know he tried the best he could, by he just couldn't make it pay

            So he ran you both aground, and turned around and walked away;

            You've been waiting here for fifty years, but no one set you free,

            Now you're broken down and dying, lying open to the sea,

            And the tides ebb and flow down below.


            And the winter…


            Now the people come to stare at you with wonder in their eyes

            For times have changed since men knew how to work a ship your size.

            The seas you sailed are running black; in time we'll know our loss –

            It's too late now for you, and is it too late now for us?

            Can you teach what you know before you go?


            And the winter is upon you now, and time is passing slow

            And the tides ebb and flow down below.



Wiscasset Schooners is recorded on the albums Schooners and  Harbors of Home