Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England »


By Unknown

Ballad: BEGONE DULL CARE. (TRADITIONAL.)

[We cannot trace this popular ditty beyond the reign of James II, but we believe it to be older. The origin is to be found in an early French chanson. The present version has been taken down from the singing of an old Yorkshire yeoman. The third verse we have never seen in print, but it is always sung in the west of Yorkshire.]

Begone, dull care!
I prithee begone from me;
Begone, dull care!
Thou and I can never agree.
Long while thou hast been tarrying here,
And fain thou wouldst me kill;
But i’ faith, dull care,
Thou never shalt have thy will.

Too much care
Will make a young man grey;
Too much care
Will turn an old man to clay.
My wife shall dance, and I shall sing,
So merrily pass the day;
For I hold it is the wisest thing,
To drive dull care away.

Hence, dull care,
I’ll none of thy company;
Hence, dull care,
Thou art no pair ‹68› for me.
We’ll hunt the wild boar through the wold,
So merrily pass the day;
And then at night, o’er a cheerful bowl,
We’ll drive dull care away.

Ballad: FULL MERRILY SINGS THE CUCKOO.

[The earliest copy of this playful song is one contained in a MS. of the reign of James I., preserved amongst the registers of the Stationers’ Company; but the song can be traced back to 1566.]

Full merrily sings the cuckoo
Upon the beechen tree;
Your wives you well should look to,
If you take advice of me.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! alack the morn,
When of married men
Full nine in ten
Must be content to wear the horn.

Full merrily sings the cuckoo
Upon the oaken tree;
Your wives you well should look to,
If you take advice of me.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! alack the day!
For married men
But now and then,
Can ’scape to bear the horn away.

Full merrily sings the cuckoo
Upon the ashen tree;
Your wives you well should look to,
If you take advice of me.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! alack the noon,
When married men
Must watch the hen,
Or some strange fox will steal her soon.

Full merrily sings the cuckoo
Upon the alder tree;
Your wives you well should look to,
If you take advice of me.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! alack the eve,
When married men
Must bid good den
To such as horns to them do give.

Full merrily sings the cuckoo
Upon the aspen tree;
Your wives you well should look to,
If you take advice of me.
Cuckoo! cuckoo! alack the night,
When married men,
Again and again,
Must hide their horns in their despite.

Ballad: JOCKEY TO THE FAIR.

[A version of this song, not quite so accurate as the following was published from an old broadside in Notes and Queries, vol. vii., p. 49, where it is described as a ’very celebrated Gloucestershire ballad.’ But Gloucestershire is not exclusively entitled to the honour of this genuine old country song, which is well known in Westmoreland and other counties. ’Jockey’ songs constitute a distinct and numerous class, and belong for the most part to the middle of the last century, when Jockey and Jenny were formidable rivals to the Strephons and Chloes of the artificial school of pastoral poetry. The author of this song, whoever he was, drew upon real rural life, and not upon its fashionable masquerade. We have been unable to trace the exact date of this ditty, which still enjoys in some districts a wide popularity. It is not to be found in any of several large collections of Ranelagh and Vauxhall songs, and other anthologies, which we have examined. From the christian names of the lovers, it might be supposed to be of Scotch or Border origin; but Jockey to the Fair is not confined to the North; indeed it is much better known, and more frequently sung, in the South and West.]

’Twas on the morn of sweet May—day, When nature painted all things gay, Taught birds to sing, and lambs to play, And gild the meadows fair; Young Jockey, early in the dawn, Arose and tripped it o’er the lawn; His Sunday clothes the youth put on, For Jenny had vowed away to run With Jockey to the fair; For Jenny had vowed, &c.

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