Thursday, November 10, 2011

"The Gales of November Came Early"

                   November 10, 1975

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down,
of the big lake that they call Gitche Gumee.
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy.
With a load of iron ore, twenty-six thousand tons more
than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
when the gales of November came early.

The ship was the pride of the American side
coming back from some mill in Wisconsin.
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most,
with a crew and good captain well-seasoned.
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
when they left fully loaded for Cleveland
and later that night when the ship's bell rang
could it be the North Wind they'd be feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
'twas the Witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and breakfast had to wait,
when the gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
in the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
sayin', " Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya'."
At seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said,
"Fellas, it's been good to know ya'."
The captain wired in he had water comin' in,
and the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
if they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized,
may have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and names
of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
in the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
the islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
takes in what Lake Erie can send her.
And the iron boats go, as all Mariners know,
with the gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
in a Maritime Sailor's Cathedral.
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times,
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
when the gales of November come early!

        ~written by Gordon Lightfoot~

~In Honour & Memory~

1 comment:

  1. Hauntingly beautiful. I remember when we were up around Lake Superior....saw a poster with all the sunken was amazing!