Lord Franklin - Chords, Lyrics and Origins


Lord Franklin was a famous nineteenth century British sea captain and explorer.  His final expedition, undertaken in his sixties, aimed to find the (at the time) mythical Northwest sea Passage.  The expedition set off for the artic in 1846 amid much press hulabaloo.  At the time, it was quite usual for such expeditions to be out of contact for more than a year, so at first nobody much worried about Franklin.  Then, as the months wore on, it became clear that the expedition had met with ill-luck.  The fate of Franklin was a public mystery ("The fate of Franklin, no man may know").  Franklin's wife ultimately comissioned a second expedition to search for her husband, even though by the time it left, it was all but certain that Franklin himself had perished.  It is this story that the song tells, apparently from the point of view of Lady Franklin.  Indeed, according to some sources, she was the song's author. 

What happened next is almost beside the point, as it is beyond the bounds of the song itself.  If you're interested see, the Wikipedia article about John Franklin.

My personal favourite version of the song is by Nic Jones. It's on the difficult to get hold of 'In Search of Nic Jones' album.

Dylanologists among you may recognise this song as providing the model, and the tune, for Bob Dylan's Dream, which appears on the Freewheelin' album. Don't think it's got much to do with his 115th dream though.

Go to the cover of this song: Lord Franklin - Acoustic Cover.

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            G                                   C
It was homeward bound one night on the deep,


                                                D                   G   

Swinging in my hammock, I fell asleep.

                                           C               G

I dreamed a dream and I thought it true,


Concerning Franklin,

C                        G

And his gallant crew.


It was homeward bound one night on the deep,

Swinging in my hammock, I fell asleep;

I dreamed a dream and I thought it true,

Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew.


With a hundred sailors he sailed away,

The frozen ocean in the month of may,

To seek a passage around the pole,

Where we poor sailors sometimes have to go.


Through cruel hardships they vainly strove;

Their ship on mountains of ice was drove;

Only the Indian with his skin canoe,

Was the only one that ever came through.


In Baffin bay where the whale-fish blow

The fate of Franklin, no man may know;

The fate of Franklin, no tongue may tell,

Where Franklin along with his sailors does dwell.


And now my burden, it brings me pain;

For my long, lost Franklin I would cross the main;

Ten thousand guineas I would freely give

To say on Earth that my Franklin does live.