The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #37413 Message #3378137
Posted By: Jim Carroll
18-Jul-12 - 03:34 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Broomfield Wager (4)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Broomfield Wager (4)
"Hold the wheel! "
From 'Folk Songs of Britain' vol 4.
"The song became known in the Blaxhall district as Hold the Wheel I This arose as a result of the singer trying to explain the story to a visiting yachtsman, who misunderstood 'had his will' as 'hold the wheel'."
According to Salford historian Eddie Frow, a contemporary and friend of William Miller, MacColl's father "had hundreds of "bits and pieces of old Scots ballads and songs which he sang at political social events and parties in Salford" in the 1930s.
I believe that MacColl collated many of these into full versions.
From the notes of MacColl's and Seeger's 'The Long Harvest' (vol 3) (written in the late 1960s).
A knight, or lord, challenges a young woman to meet him in a field of broom, a green woods or on a hill top and wagers a large sum of money on the fact that she will not return home a virgin. The girl accepts the challenge and sets out for the tryst. Arriving at the place of assignation, she finds the knight asleep and through the use of magical means ensures that the sleep will continue for the duration of her visit. When the knight awakens, he finds a token or tokens left by the young woman and scolds his horse, his hound and his hawk, or sometimes his friends and servants, for not having wakened him.
Child gives six versions, five of which are Scots and one English. Bronson gives thirty versions, twenty-seven of which are from oral sources in this century. Of these, nineteen are English, five are North American, two Scots and one Irish.
The theme was a common one in tales and romances throughout most parts of medieval Europe. In ballad form it has been found in Scandinavia, Germany and Italy. The earliest printed copies of British versions are broadsides dating from the early 18th century. The earliest traditional versions were noted in Scotland a quarter of a century later and the ballad was still apparently common there up to the beginning of the I9th century. During the present century, however, its popularity has declined in Scotland but appears to have grown in England, particularly in the south-west. It is still found, though infrequently, in North America and Canada. More commonly found in the North-eastern United States, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is a curious marine adaptation of the story in which the knight of the Broomfield Hill is transformed into an amorous sea-captain (our version B). The young woman on whom he has designs succeeds in preserving her chastity by singing her would-be lover to sleep: a magic just as potent as that employed by the maid in the land-locked versions of the ballad.
In our version A, the attempts of the hound, horse and hawk to arouse the sleeping man are omitted and the use of magic to induce deep sleep is merely hinted at in stanza 5. The sly humour implicit in the explanation given for the knight's deep sleep (stanza 7) reduces the magical element even further."