Moon-Man Newfie: A Fish Story?

This charming animation by the National Film Board of Canada for one of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ songs highlights the folklore of the Province of Newfoundland.

(Scroll down to see the song lyrics below. Tool tip bubbles will pop up with explanations for some of the vocabulary. )

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Moon Man by Paul Morstad, National Film Board of Canada

The Moon-Man Newfie (1972, by Stompin’ Tom Connors)

You might think it’s goofy , but the Man in the Moon is a Newfie ,
And he’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory ;
He’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory.

Cod Fish Dan from Newfoundland, he dreamt that he had three wishes;
And he took Mars and all the stars, and he turned ’em into big fishes.
He said the sky was much too dry, and he made a wavy motion;
And the Moon, like a boat, began to float upon the starry ocean.

And you might think it’s goofy, but the Man in the Moon is a Newfie,
And he’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory;
Sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory.

One night he strayed to the Milky Way, to cast his nets upon it;
He spied the tail of a great big whale, and he harpooned Haley’s Comet.

He never had a pot for the fish that he caught, so he had to use the Big Dipper ,
And the sun, by Jove , was a very good stove, for cooking up smelts and gippers .

And you might think it’s goofy, but the Man in the Moon is a Newfie,
And he’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory;
He’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory.

Now the Northern Lights that seemed so bright like nothin’ could be grander ,
Well they’re just waves of the moon boat, made by the Newfoundland commander.
And don’t you sigh and say, “Oh my, what gross exaggerations”
‘Cause he’ll tell you the dream was true when Cod Fish Dan awakens.

And you might think it’s goofy, but the Man in the Moon is a Newfie,
And he’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory;
He’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory.

You might think it’s goofy, but the Man in the Moon is a Newfie,
And he’s sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory;
Sailin’ on to glory, away in the golden dory.

♪ /♪/ ♫ /♪ /♪ /♫ /♪ /♪ /♫ /♪ /♪ /♫ ♪ /♪/ ♫ /♪ /♪ /♫ /♪ /♪ /♫

A Fish Story about Fish

Newfoundland is a large island that is part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the North Atlantic Ocean. Canadians from Newfoundland are called Newfoundlanders and often Newfies for short.

The fishing industry has always played a vital role in Newfoundland’s history, culture and survival. In 1992, a moratorium by the government put a halt to cod fishing because of depleted stocks and drastically affected the future of so many Newfoundlanders who had depended on fishing for their livelihood.

The song “Moon-Man Newfie” is about the dream of a fisherman from Newfoundland. In his dream, the fisherman is granted “three wishes”, just like the poor fisherman of fairy tales who accidentally frees a genie from a bottle.

Man in the Moon

Before the age of space exploration, people all over the world wondered what the patterns on the moon represented. Some people thought they saw the shape of a rabbit pounding or mixing something in a pot; some even joked that the moon must be made of cheese because the craters on the moon looked like the holes in Swiss cheese; and others, who thought they saw a human face in the moon, imagined there was a “man in the moon”. In the song “Moon Man Newfie”, we are told that the “man in the moon” is actually Dan, the fisherman from Newfoundland.

Three Wishes

Dan dreams that he can have three wishes come true.

Dan’s first wish allows him to turn the planet Mars and all the stars into fishes. That’s great for a fisherman!

His second wish allows him to turn the sky into an ocean. That way, the fish can swim in it and Dan can sail on it 🙂

But how can he sail on such an ocean without a proper boat? His third wish allows him to turn the moon into a dory (a flat-bottomed boat) that is made of gold.

Stars and Galaxies

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our solar system. We call it the Milky Way because in the night sky it looks like a spiral road that is white like milk.

To cast a net is to throw a fishing net over the water in order to catch fish. Dan can cast his net over the Milky Way because the sky has become an ocean and the stars have become fish.

When you’re out on the ocean in the middle of the night, and you’re far from any city lights, it’ wonderful to see so many stars and constellations in the night sky.

DISCUSSION

  • So, what do you think? Was it a dream or a “fish story”?
  • Which stories about the moon are told in your cultural tradition?
  • Which parts of this story do you find hard to believe?
  • Have you ever told a fish story to anyone? What did you exaggerate and why? (Remember, a fish story can be about anything, not just fish.)
  • If you had three wishes, what would they be? Why?

FUNNY EXPRESSIONS

Sometimes we use the expression “(Everything is) hunky dory” to mean “(Everything is) perfect / completely satisfactory”.

I hope you enjoyed my post. If you would like to practise using these expressions, you may wish to sign up for our conversation classes here.

 

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Except where otherwise noted, all content on this site by Yuri de la Pena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, all content on this site by Yuri de la Pena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.