O to T(b)
Home Up Preface A to F H to M O to T(b) T(c) to T(g) T(h) to T(t)


Songs of the Ridings

One Year Older

One yeer owder, one yeer dearer:
That's what I sal awlus say.
Draw thy chair a little nearer,
Put yon stockin's reight away.
Thou hast done enough i' thy time,
Tewed i' t' house an' wrowt at loom;
Just for once thou mun sit idle,
Feet on t' hear'stone, fingers toom.(1)

One yeer owder, one yeer dearer:
So I promised when we wed.
Then thy een were glest'rin' clearer
Nor the stars aboon us spread.
If they're dimmer now, they're tend'rer,
An' yon wrinkles on thy face
Tell a lesson true as t' Bible,
Speik o' charity an' grace.

One yeer owder, one yeer dearer:
We've supped sorrow, tasted joy,
But our love has grown sincerer,
Gethered strength nowt can destroy.
Love is like an oak i' t' forest,
Ivery yeer it adds a ring;
Love is like yon ivin tendrils,
Ivery day they closer cling.

One yeer owder, one yeer dearer:
Time's the shuttle, life's the yarn.
Have thy crosses seemed severer
'Cause thou niver had a barn?
Mebbe I sud not have loved thee 
Hauf so weel, if I mud share
All our secret thowts wi' childer,
Twinin' round my owd arm-chair.

One yeer owder, one yeer dearer:
'Tis our gowden weddin' day.
There sal coom no gaumless fleerer
To break in upon our play.
Look, I've stecked(2) wer door and window
Let me lap thee i' my arms;
Hushed to-neet be ivery murmur,
While my kiss thy pale face warms.

1. Empty. 2. Latched

horizontal rule

Our Beck

I niver heerd its name; we call it just "Our beck." 
Mebbe, there's bigger streams down Ripon way;
But if thou wants clean watter, by my neck!
Thou'll travel far for cleaner, ony day.

Clear watter! Why, when t' sun is up i' t' sky,
I've seen yon flickerin' shadows o' lile trout
Glidin' ower t' shingly boddom. Step thou nigh,
An' gloor at t' minnows dartin' in an' out.

Our beck flows straight frae slacks o' moorland peat,
An' gethers sweetness out o' t' ling an' gorse;
At first its voice sounds weantly(1) saft an' leet,
But graws i' strength wi' lowpin ower yon force.

Then thou sud see the birds alang its banks -
Grey heronsews, that coom to fish at dawn;
Dippers, that under t' watter play sike pranks,
An' lang-nebbed curlews, swaimish(2) as a fawn.

Soomtimes I've seen young otters leave their holes,
An' laik like kitlins ower the silver dew;
An' I've watched squirrels climmin' up the boles
O' beech trees, lowpin' leet frae beugh to beugh.

Fowers! Why, thou'd fill thy skep,(3) lass, in an hour,
Wi' gowlands, paigles, blobs,(4) an' sike-like things;
We've daffydills to deck a bridal bower,
Pansies, wheer lady-cows(5) can dry their wings.

Young childer often bathe, when t'weather's fine,
Up yonder, wheer t' owd miller's bigged his weir;
I like to see their lish,(6) nakt bodies shine,
An' watch 'em dive i' t' watter widoot fear.

Ay, yon's our brig, bent like an archer's bow,
It's t' meetin' place o' folk frae near an' far;
Young 'uns coom theer wi' lasses laughin' low,
Owd 'uns to talk o' politics an' t' war.

It's daft when chaps that sit i' Parliament
Weant tak advice frae lads that talk farm-twang;
If t' coontry goes to t' dogs, it's 'cause they've sent
Ower mony city folk to mend what's wrang.

They've taen our day-tale men(7) to feight for t' land,
Then tell us we mun keep our staggarths(8) full.
What's lasses, gauvies,(9) greybeards stark(10) i' t' hand,
To strip wer kye, an' ploo, an' tew wi' t' shool?(11)

But theer, I'll nurse my threapin' while it rains,
An' while my rheumatiz is bad to bide;
I mun step heamwards now, through t' yatts(12) an' lanes,
Wheer t' owd lass waits for me by t' fireside.

1. Strangely 2 Timid 3 Basket 
4. Kingcups, cowslips, globe-flowers. 5. Ladybirds 
6 Smooth. 7. Day Labourers 8. Stock Yards
9. Simpletons 10. stiff 11. Shovel 12. Gates

horizontal rule

Telling The Bees

( On many Yorkshire farms it was perhaps still is the
custom to tell the bees when a death had taken place in the
family. The hive had to be put into mourning, and when
the arval, or funeral feast, was held, after the return
from the grave, small portions of everything eaten or 
drunk had to be given to the bees in a saucer. Failure 
to do this meant either the death or departure of the bees. )

Whisht! laatle bees, sad tidings I bear,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low;
Cauld i' his grave ligs your maister dear,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.
Nea mair he'll ride to t' soond o' t' horn, 
Nea mair he'll fettle his sickle for t' corn. 
Nea mair he'll coom to your skep of a morn,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.

Muther sits cryin' i' t' ingle nook,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low;
Parson's anent her wi' t' Holy Book,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.
T' mourners are coom, an' t' arval is spread, 
Cakes fresh frae t' yoon,(1) an' fine havver-bread. 
But toom'(2) is t' seat at t' table-head,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.

Look, conny(3) bees, I's winndin' black crape,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low;
Slowly an' sadly your skep I mun drape,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low. 
Else you will sicken an' dwine(4) reet away,
Heart-brokken bees, now your maister is clay;
Or, mebbe, you'l leave us wi' t' dawn o' t' day,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.

Sitha! I bring you your share o' our feast,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low;
Cakes an' yal(5) an' wine you mun taste,
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.
Gie some to t' queen on her gowlden throne, 
There's foison to feed both worker an' drone;
Oh! dean't let us fend for oursels alone;
Bees, bees, murmurin' low.

1.Oven 2.Empty 3.Darling 4.Waste 5.Ale

horizontal rule

The Artist

Lang-haired gauvies(1) coom my way, drawin' t' owd abbey an' brig,
All their crack is o' Art-staities an' picturs an' paints;
Want to put me on their canvas, donned i' my farmer's rig,
Tell me I'm pairt o' t' scenery, stained-glass windeys an' saints.

I reckon I'm artist an' all, though I niver gave it a thowt;
Breeder o' stock is my trade, Mike Pullan o' t' Abbey Close.
What sud a farmer want wi' picturs that brass has bowt?
All his art is i' t' mistal, wheer t' heifers are ranged i' rows.

Look at yon pedigree bull, wi' an eye as breet as a star,
An' a coat that shines like velvet, when it catches t' glent o' t' sun;
Hark to him bealin' for t' cows, wi' a voice like t' thunner on t' scar,
Watch them sinews i' t' neck, ripplin' wi' mischief an' fun.

Three generations o' men have lived their lives for yon bull,
Tewed at his keep all t' day, dreamed o' his sleekness all t' neet;
Moulded the bugth o' his buttocks, fashioned the breadth o' his skull -
Ivery one on 'em artists, sculptors o' butcher's meat.

What are your Rubens and Vandykes anent the craft that is Breed?
Anent the art that is Life, what's figures o' bronze or stone?
Us farmers 'll mould you models, better nor statties that's deead -
Strength that is wick i' the flesh, Beauty that's bred i' the bone.

Bailiff's doughter at t' Hollins, 
shoo's Breed, an' shoo's Life, an shoo's Art,
Bred frae a Westmorland statesman out o' a Craven lass;
Carries hersen like a queen when shoo drives to markit i' t' cart:
Noan o' yon scraumy-legged(2) painters sal iver git howd o' her brass

Picturs is reight enough for fowks cluttered up i' Leeds,
Fowks that have ne'er hannled beasts, can't tell a tup frae a yowe ;
But the art for coontry lads is the art that breathes an' feeds,
An' t' finest gallery i' t' worrld is a Yorkshire cattle-show.

1. Simpletons. 2. Spindle-legged

horizontal rule

The Bells Of Kirkby Overblow

Draw back my curtains, Mary,
An' oppen t' windey wide;
Ay, ay, I know I'm deein',
While to-morn I'll hardlins bide.
But yit afore all's ovver,
An' I lig cowd as snow,
I'll hear once more them owd church bells
O' Kirkby Overblow.

Mony a neet an' mornin'
I've heerd yon church bells peal;
An' how I've threaped an' cursed 'em
When I was strong an' weel!
Gert, skelpin', chunterin' taistrils,(1)
All janglin' in a row!
Ay, mony a time I've cursed yon bells
O' Kirkby Overblow.

When you hear yon church bells ringin',
You can't enjoy your sin;
T' bells clutches at your heart-strings
I' t' ale-house ower your gin.
At pitch-an'-toss you're laikin',
Down theer i' t' wood below;
An' then you damn them rowpy(2) bells
O' Kirkby Overblow.

An' when I've set off poachin'
At back-end o' the year,
Wi' ferret, bag an' snickle,(3)
Church bells have catched my ear.
"Thou's takken t' road to Hell, lad,
Wheer t' pit-fire's bumin' slow;"
That's what yon bells kept shoutin' out
At Kirkby Overblow.

But now I'm owd an' bed-fast,
I ommost like their sound,
Ringin' so clear i' t' star-leet
Across the frozzen ground.
I niver mell on(4) parsons,
There ain't a prayer I know;
But prayer an' sarmon's i' yon bells
O' Kirkby Overblow.

Six boards o' gooid stout ellum
Is what I'll want to-morn;
Then lay me low i' t' church-yard
Aneath t' owd crooked thorn.
I'll have no funeral sarvice
When I'm browt down below,
But let 'em touzle t' bells like mad
At Kirkby Overblow.

I don't know wheer I'm boun' for,
It hardlins can be Heaven;
I've sinned more sins nor most men
'Twixt one an' seven-seven.
But this I'll tak my oath on:
Wheeriver I mun go,
I'll hark to t' echoes o' yon bells
O' Kirkby Overblow.

1 Unwieldy, grumbling rascals. 2 Hoarse.
3. Snare 4. Meddle with.

horizontal rule

The Bride's Homecomming

( A weddin', a woo,
A clog an' a shoe,
A pot full o' porridge; away we go!
A Yorkshire Wedding-Rhyme.)

Thoo mun hod on tight, my darlin',
We've mony a beck to cross;
Twix' thy father's hoose an' mine, love,
There's a vast o' slacks an' moss.
But t' awd mare, shoo weant whemmle(1)
Though there's twee on her back astride;
Shoo's as prood as me, is Snowball,
Noo I's fetchin' heame my bride.
A weddin', a woo,
A clog an' a shoe,
A pot full o' porridge; away we go!

Gow! but I feel sae leetsome,
Sin I've lived to see this day;
My heart is like a blackbod's
Efter a shoor i' May.
I' t' sky aboon nea lairock
Has sae mich reet to sing
As I have, noo I've wedded
T' lile lass o' Fulsa Ing.
A weddin', a woo,
A clog an' a shoe,
A pot full o' porridge; away we go!

Does ta hear yon watter bubblin',
Deep doon i' t' moorland streams?
It soonds like childer' voices
When they're laughin' i' their dreams.
An' look at yon lang-tailed pyots,(2)
There s three on 'em, I'll uphod!
Folks say that three's for a weddin',
Ay, a pyot's a canny bod.
A weddin', a woo,
A clog an' a shoe,
A pot full o' porridge; away we go!

I love to feel thee clingin'
Wi' thy hands aroond my breast;
Thy bosom's leetly heavin',
Like a ship on t' saut waves' crest.
An' thy breath is sweet as t' breezes,
That cooms ower t' soothern hills,
When t' violet blaws i' t' springtime
Wi' t' yollow daffydills.
A weddin', a woo,
A clog an' a shoe,
A pot full o' porridge; away we go!

Is ta gittin' tired, my honey,
We'll be heame i' hafe an hour;
Thoo'll see our hoose an' staggarth,
Wi' t' birk-trees bendin' ower.
There's a lillilow(3) i' our cham'er
To welcome my viewly bride ;
An' sean we'll be theer oorsels, lass,
Liggin' cosy side by side.
A weddin', a woo,
A clog an' a shoe,
A pot full o' porridge; away we go!

1 Stumble. 2 Magpies. 3. Light

horizontal rule