Loss of the Schooner “Persian,” On Lake Huron

Norm Cohen credited “The Persian’s Crew” to Patrick Fennell.  Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we have a scanned copy of Patrick’s 1886 book containing the poem (page 145).  If Cohen is right, this is a version of the song from its original author.


Sad and dismal is the tale,
Which I’ll relate to you,
About the schooner Persian,
Her officers and crew,
Who sank beneath the stormy deep,
To rise in life no more ;
Where winds with desolation sweep.
Lake Huron’s rock-bound shore.

They left Chicago on their lee,
Their singing did resound ;
All hearts were full of joyous glee.
As homeward they were bound ;
They little thought the monster, Death,
Was lurking in the deep,
And they, so full of life and hope.
Should in the waters sleep.

In mystery their doom is sealed,
They did collide some say,
And that is all will be revealed
Until the judgment day ;
When the angel takes his stand,
To wake the waters blue,
And summon forth, by heaven’s command,
The ill-starr’d Persian’s crew.

No mother’s hand was there to press
The brow’s distracting pain ;
No gentle wife, with kind caress,
To soothe the aching brain ;
No lover there, no sister nigh,
Nor little ones to weep ;
In wat’ry graves henceforth they’ll lie,
Beneath the stormy deep.

Her gallant captain is no more,
He fills a seaman’s grave ;
Beneath the deep, off Huron’s shore,
Where wind-tossed waters rave ;
Unknown the spot, and hid from view
His manly, lifeless form ;
And stilled in death the tar so true.
Who weathered many a storm.

Daniel Sullivan, her mate,
A tar as bold and brave,
As ever was compelled by fate,
To fill a sailor’s grave ;
He will be weeped for as a friend,
Alas! his days are o’er,
He met a sad, untimely end,
Near Huron’s rock-bound shore.

Oh, Dan, your many friends will mourn
That fate did on you frown ;
We’ll look in vain for your return,
To your adopted town ;
We’ll miss the love-glance of your eye,
Your hand we’ll press no more,
For stilled in death, old friend, you lie
Near Huron’s rock-bound shore.

Her sailors’ names we did not know,
Excepting one or two ;
Down in the deep they all did go,
They were a luckless crew.
Oh, not a man escaped to land,
To clear the mystery o’er.
Until they drift, by heaven’s command,
In lifeless form ashore.

Around Presque-Isle, the sea-birds scream
In mournful notes along ;
They’re chaunting forth the requiem,
The dismal funeral song ;
They skim along the waters blue,
And then aloft they soar,
In memory of the Persian’s crew,
Near Huron’s stormy shore.

Why the tentativeness about identifying this text as the original? This book was published by Fennell in 1886, 18 years after the Persian went down.  He speaks of the pen-name “Shandy Maguire”, and implies that the poem was published under that name originally.  Since he is publishing it under his own name in this book, it would seem to suggest there is an earlier published text for this poem.  And of course, without tracking down that earlier publication, it’s impossible to say if this is his original text or not.  Still, if Cohen is right, this is a version of the poem published by its author.

Incidentally, Windjammers suggests this book came out after the Buffalo Express published an uncredited version on March 9th, 1887.  They suggest that was before this book, but if the date on this book is accurate, the book came out the year before the newspaper article.

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