Shantyman’s Life


“Shantymen” were what lumberjacks were called in the logging boom of the late 1800s, especially around Lake Superior.


(American folk song)

The shantyman’s life is a worrisome one,
Though some call it free from care.
It’s the ringing of the ax from morning till night
In the middle of the forest fair.
While life in the shanties, bleak and cole,
While the wintry winds do blow,
As soon as the morning star does appear,
To the wild woods we must go.

Then far are we ever from the pretty maidens fair,
On the bank of Wisconsin’s streams
Where the wolves and the owls with terrifying howls
Disturb our nightly dreams.
About three in the morning the early cook cries,
“Boys, ‘tis the break of day.”
When broken slumber thus we pass
Long winter nights away.

It is then in the spring when the hardships begin,
When the waters are piercing and cold.
Our limbs are almost frozen and dripping wet our clothes,
And our oars we can scarcely hold.
Now the rapids that we run, we think them only fun.
Devoid of all slavery and fear.
And the rocks, shoals and sands give employment to all hands,
Our well-banded rafts to steer.

See also


  • Song with chords (PDF)
  • MIDI file
  • Listen to the song

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