The Persian's Crew

from by The Lost Forty

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about

The Persian was carrying wheat from Chicago to its home port of Oswego, New York in 1868 when it collided with another vessel just east of the Straits of Mackinac. The ten-man crew was never heard from again. This song began as a poem penned by Patrick Fennel—a dear friend of the Persian’s first mate.

Michael Dean may have sailed the Lakes himself. Collector Franz Rickaby, who met Dean in 1923, referred to him as a “sailor” and Dean himself wrote that he learned songs during time “wandering around on the Lakes.”

lyrics

Sad and dismal is the story I will tell to you,
About the schooner Persia, her officers and crew,
They sank beneath the waters deep, in life to rise no more,
Where wind and desolation sweeps Lake Huron’s rock bound shore.

They left Chicago on their lee, their songs they did resound,
Their hearts were full of joy and glee, for they were homeward bound,
They little thought the sword of death would meet them on their way,
And they so full of joy and life would in Lake Huron lay.

Well in mystery over their fate was sealed, they did collide some say,
That is all will be revealed until the judgment day,
When the angels take their stand and survey these waters blue,
They’ll summon forth at Heaven’s command the Persian’s luckless crew.

No mother dear was there to soothe the brow’s distracted pain,
No gentle wife for to caress those pale lips once again,
No sister nor a lover sweet, no little ones to moan,
In the deep alone they sleep, far from friends and home.

Well around Presque Isle the sea birds scream their mournful notes along,
Chanting the sad requiem, the mournful funeral song,
They skim along the waters blue and then aloft they soar,
O’er the bodies of the Persian’s crew that lie along the shore.

credits

from The Lonesome Hours of Winter, released November 23, 2018
Brian: vocals, bouzouki
Randy: guitar

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The Lost Forty Saint Paul, Minnesota

Brian Miller and Randy Gosa craft intricate arrangements of rare old songs entwined with the history of the Great Lakes region. Their sources and their approach celebrate two centuries of Irish musical influence on the under-explored folk song traditions of the north woods. ... more

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