The albatross, known to deep-water sailors as a goney or gooney-bird, appears again as a symbol of freedom and escape in THE WINGS OF A GONEY. Probably presenting a much truer picture of the whalerman's life than the many more lively songs which express the exuberance and excitement of the chase, this little lament was found by Gale Huntington in the logbook of a New Bedford whaler. Our variant comes from the singing of A. L. Lloyd, who has given the song a more British flavor.
If I had the wings of a gull, boys
I'd spread 'em and fly home
I'd leave old Greenland's icy grounds
For the right whales there are none
And the weather's rough and the winds do blow
And there's little comfort here
I'd sooner be snug in a Deptford pub
A-drinking of strong beer.
Well, a man must be mad or want money bad
To venture catching whales
For he may be drowned when the fish he turns around
Or his head be smashed by his tail
Though the work seems grand to the young green hand
And his heart is high when he goes
In a very short burst he'd as soon as hear a curse
As a cry of, There she blows!
All hand on deck now, for God's sake
Move briskly if you can
And he stumbles on deck so dizzy and sick
For his life he don't give a damn
And high overhead the great fluke's spread
And the mate gives the whale the iron
And soon the blood in a purple flood
From his spout all comes a flyin'.
These trials we bear for nigh four years
'Til the flying jib points for home
We're supposed for our toil to get a bonus on the oil
But we go to the agent to settle for the trip
And we find we have cause to repent
For we've slaved away four years of our lives
And earned about three pounds ten.