The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4275   Message #23054
Posted By: Wolfgang Hell
05-Mar-98 - 09:30 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: The Reaphook and Sickle
Subject: ADD: The reaphook and sickle
The Albion band (with Martin Carthy) sings this song. The slightly different version here comes from R. Palmer, Everyman's Book of English Country songs. I have also added a part of his notes.

The Reaphook and Sickle

1. Come all you lads and lassies, together let us go
into some pleasant cornfield our courage for to show,
with the reaphook and the sickle so well we clear the land,
the farmer says, ‘Well done, my lads, here’s liquor at your command.’

2. By daylight in the morning when birds so sweetly sing -
They are such charming creatures they make the valley ring -
We will reap and scrape together till Phoebus do go down,
With the good old leathern bottle and beer that is so brown.

3 Then in comes lovely Nancy the corn all for to lay,
She is my charming creature, I must begin to pray;
See how she gathers it, binds it, she folds it in her arms,
Then gives it to some waggoner to fill a farmer's barns.

4 Now harvest's done and ended, the corn secure from harm,
All for to go to market, boys, we must thresh in the barn.
Here's a health to all you farmers, likewise to all You men,
I wish You health and happiness till harvest comes again.

reaphook: heavy variety of sickle.

Phoebus: the sun

Harvesting was both arduous and joyful Richard Jefferies in an essay, 'Walks in the Wheatfields' (published in Field and Hedgerow, 1889), paints a harrowing picture of the reapers: 'The breast-bone was burned black, and their arms, tough as ash, seemed encased in leather. They grew visibly thinner in the harvest-field, and shrunk together - all flesh disappearing, and nothing but sinew and muscle remaining....’