Traditional Scottish Songs
- Caller O'u - The Boatmen o' the Firth
Nowadays, there are notices on the banks of the Firth of Forth warning people not to eat any of the shellfish to be found there - industrial pollution has contaminated them with heavy metals. But in the 19th century, fresh oysters and other shellfish were plentiful and prices were low so they could be bought by everyone. This song by Dr John Gray describes how the oysters were sold by girls who carried creels of oysters round the doors. "Caller o'u" means freshly caught oysters and is reminiscent of the song "Caller Herring" by Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne).
Caller O'u - The Boatmen o' the FirthWhen winter winds howl, and the sea, rolling high,
Our boatmen sae brave all dangers defy;
Their last haul on board, they steer for the shore,
Their live cargo landed is soon at our door.
Caller o'u! Caller o'u! Caller o'u!
Frae the Forth. Caller o'u! Caller o'u!
At night round the ingle sae canty are we,
The oyster lass brings her treat frae the sea;
Wi music and sang, as time passes by,
We hear in the distance the creel-lassie's cry.
Success to the boatmen at hame and awa',
At kirk and at fair there's nane gaes sae braw;
And lead be their dames, sae blythe-some and fair;
Their voice in the ev'ning is music to hear.
Meaning of unusual words:
Caller O'u=freshly caught oysters
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