The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #31010   Message #403669
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
22-Feb-01 - 09:56 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: The White Hare (Watersons)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE WHITE HARE (from Frank Kidson)
Yes, I think that would be a modern addition.  It's a pity, in some ways, that people feel the need to bowdlerise old songs, which should be considered in context and not as if they had been written this week.  If they don't like what a song says, perhaps they just shouldn't sing it.  The following is the text as given by Frank Kidson in his Traditional Tunes (1891).  It was sent to him by his regular correspondent, Mr. Lolley, who got it "from the singing of an old man near Howden, now lately dead".


Near Howden Town, near Howden Town, as I have heard them tell,
There once was a white hare who used there to dwell;
She's been hunted by greyhounds and beagles so fair,
But ne'er a one amongst them could come near this white hare;
With my fol de dol de rol de dol de lol de dol de lay!

When they came to the place where this white hare used to lie,
They uncoupled the beagles and began for to try;
They uncoupled the beagles and beat the brush around,
But never a white hare in that field was to be found...

It's Jemmy the bold huntsman and Tom the whipper-in,
Go look in yonder fernside and see if she be in;
With that she took a jump, boys, and fast away she ran,
"It's yonder she is going, don't you see her, gentlemen?"...

The footmen they did run and the huntsmen they did ride,
Such halloing and shouting there was on every side;
Such halloing and shouting I ne'er before did know,
As though she had been running all the time through...

The horsemen and the footmen they all drew nigh,
Thinking that the white hare was going for to die;
She slipt out of the bush and thought to run away,
But cruel were the beagles that caused her to stay...

'Twas twenty good beagles that caused her to die,
There was not one amongst them above a foot high;
The number of dogs there's not to be found,
Nor ever better hunting upon the English ground...

I don't think, incidentally, that The Creggan White Hare, which Garry mentioned, is any relation.