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- Songs of the Ridings - 4/11 -


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 pronunciation.

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

THE TWO LAMPLIGHTERS

I niver thowt when I grew owd I'd tak to leetin' lamps; I sud have said, I'd rayther pad My hoof on t' road wi' tramps. But sin I gate that skelp(1) i' t' mine, I'm wankle(2) i' my heead; So gaffer said, I'd give ower wark An' leet town lamps atsteead.

At first, when I were liggin' snug I' bed, warm as a bee, 'T were hard to rise and get agate As sooin as t' clock strake three. An' I were flaid to hear my steps Echoin' on ivery wall; An' flaider yet when down by t' church Ullets would skreek and call.

But now I'm flaid o' nowt; I love All unkerd(3) sounds o' t' neet, Frae childer talkin' i' their dreams To t' tramp o' p'licemen' feet. But most of all I love to hark To t' song o' t' birds at dawn; They wakken up afore it gloams, When t' dew ligs thick on t' lawn.

If I feel lonesome, up I look To t' sky aboon my heead; An' theer's yon stars all glestrin' breet, Like daisies in a mead. But sometimes, when I'm glowerin' up, I see the Lord hissen; He's doutin' all yon lamps o' Heaven That shines on mortal men.

He lowps alang frae star to star, As cobby(4) as can be; Mebbe He reckons fowk's asleep, Wi' niver an eye to see. But I hae catched Him at his wark, For all He maks no din; He leaves a track o' powder'd gowd(5) To show where He has bin.

He's got big lamps an' laatle lamps, An' lamps that twinkles red; Im capped to see Him dout 'em all Afore I'm back i' bed. But He don't laik about His wark, Or stop to hark to t' birds; He minds His business, does the Lord, An' wastes no gaumless words.

I grow more like Him ivery day, For all I walk so lame; An', happen, there will coom a time I'll beat Him at His game. Thrang as Throp's wife, I'll dout my lamps Afore He's gotten so far; An' then I'll shout--"I've won my race, I've bet Him by a star."

1. Blow 2. Unsteady 3. Strange, eerie 4. Active 5. The Milky Way

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)


Songs of the Ridings - 4/11

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