The Fisherman from Neuk

by Archie Graham
(Glasgow Scotland)

The Sea of the coast of FIFE

The Sea of the coast of FIFE

The Fisherman from Neuk

I sat upon an old wood stool in a tavern near the docks
?Twas in the year of 1889 in Neuk, the shores of Fife

While sipping on my mug of ale, I chatted there that night
Tam and Dougie told to me a yarn I oft repeat

A tale of sunken treasure, aye, a tale of fishermen
A tale to stir the blood in you, a tale of lang ago

?Twas on the pier of dear auld Neuk my story doth begin
The early mist was hanging low as he sat upon the pier

Auld Jamie near his fishing boat, a rough and wiry man
It all was quiet; none had stirred, too early yet by far

The sun had not yet cracked its light upon the ink back sea
?Twas Monday morning late July, the year of ?42

He puffed upon his old clay pipe and hummed a cheery air
Young Roddy, well he soon did come and Ferguson as well

Caulm More was taken sick tae bed, so Erchie came instead
Donal, Ewan and Mackay arrived completing now the crew

On board they strode the boat soon ready afore the town would stir
Wee Jamie was a` canny man he?d sailed frae mony a year

The east and west and northern shores, he knew like his own hand
A week afore he had been out and spied an old ship wreck

?Twas in a rough and dangerous cove, where he had strayed by chance
He saw the ship beneath the waves as clear as day it was

A Spanish ship he swore to all, aye filled with doubloon gold
Now why a Spanish ship had been a roving off so far?

The thought did come to some that heard but none would ask of him
The glint of gold too strong for them, the pull of riches grand

So with his crew they sailed away to find this treasure trove
Their spirits, aye, were high that morn, ?The Tiree? sailed away

They headed north along the shore but told they nary a soul
The less who knew, the less to share, the more for Jamie?s crew

Around the coast, towards the northern isles, the boat did tack its sail
The sea was rough as oft it be; the waves did leap on high

There?s mony a tale that is passed on, in taverns far and wide
Beware the spirits that do roam these wild and raging seas

For tales of Tangie and Morool do haunt these northern seas
The Blue men, Shoopiltee, Shony too do feed old Neptune?s halls

The boat held course as Jamie steered, the wind leant not its hand
A gleam did light auld Jamie?s eyes as soon the cove he saw

A few choice words and in they went, he steered her twixt the rocks
Erchie he laughed and wiped his eye as anchor now went down

?Prepare yon boats me muckle lads, lower doon the boats I say,?
Two small rowboats now soon filled, with tackle and wi men

Jamie led the way to where he knew the wreck to lie
Ewan Graeme and auld Ferguson would dive into the deep

Jamie showed them where to go and ropes they then attached
Down they went into the cold they swam like fish not men

Ewan found some treasure first, a box of Spanish gold
Ferguson was not undone some jewels and some gold

Excitement filled the two rowboats, as treasure was brought up
Down and down they kept on going till sun began to fall

?Twas as the rowboats started back that all did take a change
The sea grew rough, the winds did moan, and voices lingered there

The guardians of the deep had come, no treasure glad to loose
Erchie did shout, a rock they hit, the rowboat smashed in twain

A piece of broken wood his throat did pierce and blood began to spurt
Fergus tried to lend a hand but then a wave did hit

It caught him up and smashed him down upon the ragged rocks
His back it snapped, a dreadful sound, into the brine he slipped

And thus the wind did moan, and moan, as banshee heralds? death
Wee Jamie not a one to fear pushed on towards ?The Tiree?

But Donal filled with terror now grabbed Jamie by the arm
?Throw it away? he pleaded him, ?throw it all back below!?

?The creatures of the deep have come, death will follow them!?
Mackay within the fishing boat did strain to see the boats

?Jamie man, whit?s happening, I hear some dreadful screams,?
?Are you alright ma Jamie man, gie me a call,? he yelled

?I canna see you all doon there but Hells? unleashed it sounds?
Jamie laughed his soul afire the treasure lure took hold

Ole Nick himself he?d face that night before he'd let it go
?We?re on oor way Mackay,? he called, ?make ready on the ropes?

?The Diel himself is oan oor tail, we needs be soon awa!?
The night gave not her light to aid; the lantern did not help

The waters roared, the winds did shriek, then Ewan shouted out
?Tis not so far we?re almost there, hold fast we?ll make it yet?

Mackay then moved just like a whip, he cast o?er ropes for them
Just then a wave crashed on the boat, it lurched and he fell forth

His lantern smashed, a fire began, his clothes burst forth in flame
A screaming torch! A human light! He leapt into the sea!

Donal afeard, grabbed hold a box of shimmering gold and jewels
He cast it o?er the side and watched as downward it did go

Old Jamie?s swore and pulled his gun, the pistol fired but once
The ball it hit young Donal square; he fell down unto the floor

?By Christ you killed the lad,? cried Ewan now kneeling in his blood
?Then toss him o?er and feed the fish, he cost us dearly there?

?Already we have lost too much the fool deserved to die,?
Ewan could see from Jamie?s eyes insanity had struck

No use to argue, he?d be next and so he tossed him o?er
Before them now ?The Tiree? ablaze, a bonfire to the gods

Ewan did shiver, death was near, and its icy grip he felt
The Blue Men soon, would claim their souls beneath the dark blue sea

Stuck in the rowboat now they were, the ?The Tiree? sank below
Mackay called out, alive he was, they steered their boat to him

Soon aboard their little boat though badly burned he was
Jamie cursed and swore aloud, as the clouds did vent their rain

Ewan cried, ?Alas, alas, what curse have we unleashed??
?The heavens fight against us too what hope do now we have??

?Give it up! God Jamie man we?ll die if we do not let go,?
?Cursed this treasure ship it be, the sea will not let go!?

Jamie pulled his dirk and leapt! Ewan grabbed his wrist!
Within the little boat they fought as blood began to spill

The winds did blow, the waves did crash, and then both of them went o?er
Down into the dark blue sea they went! Locked fast in death?s embrace!

Mackay then threw the treasure o?er, down to the depths below!
The winds went still, the waves went calm, and the clouds retained the rain

Three days it was afore a ship did find the old rowboat
Mackay did live though badly burned his story to unfold

Upon the hour they reached the shore, the ghost Mackay gave up
The story he had told the men, soon traveled round the coast

Aye many a ship, aye many a man, that?s hunted day and night
Seeking for the treasure ship, searching for the gold

Yet none did find or if they did were never seen again
And Jamie?s tale is often told in taverns far and wide

The tale is told and then retold, a warning, aye to all
If by the northern sea you sail then take a heed from me

If chance doth take you and you spy, a galley sunken there
Then steer your ship awa frae it as fast as you can sail

The Blue men lie await frae ye, they willna let you pass
If yee should try to grasp the treasure they hath stored below

Tam, he filled his pipe anew, Dougie stared at me
The tavern noo was silent man; you?d hear yer heart abeat

I bought a dram for baith of them; we downed a couple more
I took the story home with me and often I would tell

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May 22, 2010
by: May

Hi Archie
Thanks for sharing this really fascintation poem - I can just imagine it all. It's so beautiful down the East Neuk.

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