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Songs of the Ridings

A Dalesman's Litany

( From Hull, Halifax, and Hell, good Lord deliver us.
A Yorkshire Proverb. )

It's hard when fowks can't finnd their wark
Wheer they've bin bred an' born;
When I were young I awlus thowt
I'd bide 'mong t' roots an' corn.
But I've bin forced to work i' towns,
So here's my litany:
Frae Hull, an' Halifax, an' Hell,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

When I were courtin' Mary Ann,
T' owd squire, he says one day:
"I've got no bield(1) for wedded fowks;
Choose, wilt ta wed or stay?"
I couldn't gie up t' lass I loved,
To t' town we had to flee:
Frae Hull, an' Halifax, an' Hell,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

I've wrowt i' Leeds an' Huthersfel',
An' addled(2) honest brass;
I' Bradforth, Keighley, Rotherham,
I've kept my barns an' lass.
I've travelled all three Ridin's round,
And once I went to sea:
Frae forges, mills, an' coalin' boats,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

I've walked at neet through Sheffield loans,(3)
'T were same as bein' i' Hell:
Furnaces thrast out tongues o' fire,
An' roared like t' wind on t' fell.
I've sammed up coals i' Barnsley pits,
Wi' muck up to my knee:
Frae Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

I've seen grey fog creep ower Leeds Brig
As thick as bastile(4) soup;
I've lived wheer fowks were stowed away
Like rabbits in a coop.
I've watched snow float down Bradforth Beck
As black as ebiny:
Frae Hunslet, Holbeck, Wibsey Slack,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

But now, when all wer childer's fligged,(5)
To t' coontry we've coom back.
There's fotty mile o' heathery moor
Twix' us an' t' coal-pit slack.
And when I sit ower t' fire at neet,
I laugh an' shout wi' glee:
Frae Bradforth, Leeds, an Huthersfel',
Frae Hull, an' Halifax, an' Hell,
T' gooid Lord's delivered me!

1. Shelter. 2. Earned, 3. Lanes 4. Workhouse 5. Fledged

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A Song Of The Yorkshire Dales

A song I sing o' t' Yorkshire dales,
That winnd frae t' moors to t' sea; 
Frae t' breast o' t' fells, wheer t' cloud-rack sails,
Their becks flow merrily. 
Their banks are breet wi' moss an' broom,
An' sweet is t' scent o' t' thyme;
You can hark to t' bees' saft, dreamy soom(1)
I' t' foxglove bells an' t' lime.

Chorus
O! Swawdill's good for horses, an' Wensladill for cheese,
An' Airedill fowk are busy as a bee;
But wheersoe'er I wander,
My owd heart aye grows fonder
O Whardill, wheer I'll lig me down an' dee.

Reet bonny are our dales i' March,
When t' curlews tak to t' moors, 
There's ruddy buds on ivery larch,
Primroses don their floors.
But bonnier yet when t' August sun
Leets up yon plats o' ling;
An' gert white fishes lowp an' scun,(2)
Wheer t' weirs ower t' watter hing.

O! Swawdills good...

By ivery beck an abbey sleeps,
An' t' ullet is t' owd prior.
A jackdaw thruf each windey peeps,
An' bigs his nest i' t' choir.
In ivery dale a castle stands -
Sing, Clifford, Percy, Scrope! -
They threaped amang theirsels for t' lands,
But fowt for t' King or t' Pope.

O! Swawdill's good...

O! Eastward ho! is t' song o' t' gales,
As they sweep ower fell an' lea;
And Eastward ho! is t' song o' t' dales,
That winnd frae t' moors to t' sea.
Coom winter frost, coom summer druft,
Their watters munnot bide;
An' t' rain that's fall'n when bould winds soughed
Sal iver seawards glide.

O! Swawdill' s good...

1. Hum. 2 Leap and dart away.

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Cambodunum

Listen to this verse read by Dave Fawthrop

( Cambodunum is the name of a Roman station, situated on a farm at Slack, on the hills above Huddersfield. )


Cambodunum, Cambodunum, 
how I love the sound o' t' name!
Roman sowdiers belt a fort here, 
gave th' owd place its lastin' fame.

We've bin lords o' Cambodunum 
for well-nigh eight hunderd yeer;
Fowk say our fore-elders 
bowt it of a Roman charioteer.

Ay, I know we're nobbut farmers, 
mowin' gerse an' tentin' kye,
But we're proud of all we've stood for 
i' yon ages that's gone by;

Proud of all the slacks we've drained, 
an' proud of all the walls we've belt,
Proud to think we've bred our childer 
on the ground wheer Romans dwelt.

"Niver pairt wi' Cambodunum," 
that's what father used to say;
"If thou does, thou'll coom to ruin, 
beg thy breead thro' day to day."

I'll noan pairt wi' Cambodunum, 
though its roof lets in the rains,
An' its walls wi' age are totterin'; 
Cambodunum's i' my veins.

Ivery stone about the buildin' 
has bin dressed by Roman hands,
An' red blooid o' Roman sowdiers 
has bin temmed(1) out on its lands.

Often, when I ploo i' springtime, 
I leet on their buried hoard-
Coins an' pottery, combs an' glasses; 
once I fan' a rusty sword.

Whisht! I'll tell thee what I saw here 
of a moon-lit winter neet-
Ghosts o' Romans i' their war-gear, 
wheelin' slow wi' silent feet;

Pale their faces, proud their bearin', 
an' a strange gloor i' their een,
As they marched past an' saluted, 
while th' east wind blew snell an' keen.

Dalewards, dalewards, iver dalewards, 
th' hill-fowk wander yeer by yeer,
An' they toss their heeads an' flout me, 
when they see me bidin' here.

I've one answer to their fleerin': 
"I'll noan be a fact'ry slave,
Breathin' poison i' yon wark-shops, 
diggin' ivery day my grave."

"You may addle brass i' plenty,
you'll noan addle peace o' mind;
That sal bide amang us farmers 
on th' owd hills you've left behind."

See that place down theer i' t' valley, 
wheer yon chimleys spit out smoke?
Huthersfield is what they call it, 
wheer fowk live like pigs i' t' poke;

Wheer men grind their hearts to guineas, 
an' their mills are awlus thrang,
Turnin' neet-time into day-time, 
niver stoppin' th' whole yeer lang.

Cambodunum up on th' hill-tops, 
Huthersfield down i' yon dale;
One's a place for free-born Britons, 
t'other's ommost like a jail.

Here we live i' t' leet an' sunshine, 
free as larks i' t' sky aboon;
Theer men tew(2) like mowdiwarps(3) 
that grub up muck by t' glent o' t' moon.

See yon motor whizzin' past us, 
ower th' owd brig that spans our beck;
That's what fowk call modern progress,
march o' human intelleck.

Modern progress, modern ruin! 
March o' int'leck, march o' fooils!
All that cooms o' larnin' childer
i' their colleges an' schooils.

Eddication! Sanitation!! - 
teeming brass reight down a sink;
Eddication's nowt but muckment, 
sanitation's just a stink.

Childer mun have books an' picturs, 
bowt at t' most expensive shops,
Teliscowps to go star-gazin', 
michaelscowps to look at lops.(4)

Farmers munnot put their midden 
straight afoor their kitchen door;
Once a week they're set spring-cleanin', 
fettlin' up their shippen(5) floor.

Women-fowk have taen to knackin',(6) 
wilent speyk their mother-tongue,
Try to talk like chaps i' t' powpit, 
chicken-chisted, wake i' t' lung.

Some fowk say I'm too owd-feshioned; 
mebbe, they are tellin' true:
When you've lived wi' ghosts o' Romans, 
you've no call for owt that's new.

Weel I know I san't win t' vict'ry: 
son's agean me, dowters, wife;
Yit I'll hold my ground bout flinchin', 
feight so long as I have life.

An' if t' wick uns are agean me, 
I sal feight for them that's deead -
Roman sowdiers i' their trenches, 
lapped i' mail thro' foot to heead.

Here I stand for Cambodunum, 
eagle's nest on t' Pennine hills,
Wagin' war wi' modern notions, 
carin' nowt for forges, mills.

Deeath alone sal call surrender, 
stealin' on me wi' his hosts,
And when Deeath has won his battle, 
I'll go seek my Roman ghosts.

Then I'll hear their shout o' welcome 
"Here cooms Bob 'o Dick 'o Joe's,
Bred an' born at Cambodunum, 
held th'owd fort agean his foes;

"Fowt for ancient ways an' customs, 
ne'er to feshion bent his knee;
Oppen t' ranks, lads, let him enter; 
he's a Roman same as we."

1. Poured, 2. Slave. 3. Moles.  
4. Fleas 5. Cow-house. 6. Affected pronunciatio

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Fieldfares

Fieldfares, bonny fieldfares, feedin' 'mang the bent, 
Wheer the sun is shinin' through yon cloud's wide rent,
Welcoom back to t' moorlands,
Frae Norway's fells an' shorelands,
Welcoom back to Whardill,(1) now October's ommost spent.

Noisy, chackin' fieldfares, weel I ken your cry, 
When i' flocks you're sweepin' ower the hills sae high:
Oft on trees you gethers,
Preenin' out your feathers, 
An' I'm fain to see your coats as blue as t' summer sky.

Curlews, larks an' tewits,(2) all have gone frae t' moors,
Frost has nipped i' t' garden all my bonny floors;
Roses, lilies, pansies,
Stocks an' yallow tansies
Fade away, an' soon the leaves 'll clutter(3) doon i' shoors.

Here i' bed I'm liggin', liggin' day by day
Hay-cart whemmled ower,(4) and underneath I lay;
I was nobbut seven,
Soon I'll be eleven;
Fower times have I seen you fieldfares coom an' flee away.

You'll be gone when t' swallow bigs his nest o' loam, 
April winds 'll blaw you far ower t' saut sea foam;
You'll not wait while May-time,
Summer dews an' hay-time;
Lang afore our gerse is mawn your mates 'll call you home.

Fieldfares, liltin'(5) fieldfares, you'll noan sing to me.
Why sud you bide silent while you've crossed the sea?
Are you brokken-hearted,
Sin frae home you've parted,
Leavin' far frae Yorkshire moors your nests i' t' tall fir tree?

Storm-cock sings at new-yeer, swingin' on yon esh, 
Sings his loudest song when t' winds do beat an' lesh;
Robins, throstles follow,
An' when cooms the swalloww,
All the birds 'll chirm to see our woodlands green an' nesh.

Fieldfares, bonny fieldfares, I'll be gone 'fore you; 
I'm sae weak an' dowly, hands are thin an' blue.
Pain is growin' stranger,
As the neets get langer.
Will you miss my face at whiles, when t' owd yeer's changed to t' new?

1. Wharfdale 2. Peewits 3.Huddle
4. Upset 5. Light-hearted

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