The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #50640   Message #772825
Posted By: John Minear
28-Aug-02 - 07:41 AM
Thread Name: Wild Boar: History, Lyrics & Discussion-Child #18
Subject: RE: Wild Boar: History, Lyrics & Discussion
Sandy Paton, in his liner notes for Buna Hicks' "Sir Lionel" on THE TRADITIONAL MUSIC OF BEECH MOUNTAIN, NORTH CAROLINA, Vol. 1, from Folk-Legacy (FSA-22), has done a very nice job of comparing three of these ballads. He talks about the relationship between the Hicks' version and that of Sam Harmon, and then he goes on to say the following.

"Child's text was taken from the recitation of a Benjamin Brown in Worcestershire, England, in 1845, although the date of that recovery has no pertinence to the antiquity of the ballad. Indeed, in his notes, Child remarks that the "ballad has much in common with the romance of 'Sir Eglamour of Artois'."

Sandy goes on to say, "Alfred Williams, in FOLK SONGS OF THE UPPER THAMES, prints a version from North Wilts which also resembles the Child text. A comparison of these several versions proves interesting. The hero in Child's "C" text is "Sir Ryalas"; in Williams' version the name is "Sir Rylas"' in our version (Buna Hicks) he is not named.[In Rena Hicks' version, he is named "Center"]. The refrain lines in Child are quite comparable to ours (one can speculate on the change of something like "Blow your horns, hunter" to the "Blow you horn, Center" sung by Mrs. Hicks), [Rena Hicks' version being the connecting link, which makes "Center" the third Son of Abram Bailey, aka Sir Robert Bolton, etc.] while the Williams text demonstrates the beginnings of the nonsense refrain generally associated with the widely known "Old Bangum" versions of the ballad, in that what Williams describes as an interpretation of the sound of the horn is occasionally inserted ("I an dan dilly dan killy koko an"). In the "old Bangum" versions, of course, the once dramatic battle between the heroic knight and the vicious wild boar becomes farcical, with all traces of magic or witchcraft removed and the poor hero wielding a wooden knife. Child's text has Sir Ryalas attacked by a "wild woman", following his victory over the wild boar, "and he fairly split her head in twain". Williams' Sir Rylas is also attacked by a "wild woman" and he "split her head down to the chin". In our version, the wild woman has become a "witch-wife" whose head is split "to the chin". Our text appears to be nearer to the Child text in some respects, while sharing several variations with the Williams text. Perhaps our version came to Amrica prior to the influence of the anonymous folk artist who first decided to add the sounds of the horn to the ballad, the interpolation of which eventually may have led to the comic "Old Bangum" versions with their odd refrains, so often sounding like a young Latin scholar conjugating his verbs rather than an imitation of a hunter's bugle, and the Williams text represents a surprising recovery of a transitional form of the ballad still being sung in England in the early part of this century. At any rate, all three are parts of a darned rare specimen of the ancient tradition." (pp. 11-12)[the editorial comments in brackets being from TOM]

At this point, we ought to also bring in the version posted above from Sheila Kay Adams, which she got from Bobby McMillon. This verion is closer to the Williams verison and seems to be a part of that transition that Sandy is talking about.


Bingham Bailey had three sons
Fal-a-day, fal-a-day, fal-a-rinks-dum-a-dairy-o
Bingham Bailey had three sons,
Willie was the youngest one
Fal-a-day, fal-a-day, fal-a-rinks-dum-a-dairy-o.

Willie would a hunting ride
With a sword and pistol by his side.

One day up on the greenwood side
Up in a tree a lady spied

What are you doing up in that tree?
I see you there my gay lady.

There be's a wild boar in these woods
He kilt my lord and he drunk his blood.

And how might I this wild boar see?
Just blow thy horn, he'll come to thee.

He popped his bugle to his mouth
And he blew it long both north and south

Over yander he comes through the bresh
He's a cutting his way through the oak and ash

They fit the fight up in the day
And in the end the boar he slayed

They rode down by the wild boar's den
And spied the bones of a thousand men.

They met the witch-wife on the bridge
"Be gone you rogue, you've kilt my pig!"

Hit's these three things I crave of thee
Thy hawk, thy hound, thy gay lady.

Hit's these three things you can't have from me
My hawk, my hound, my gay lady.

Into his locks the witch wife flew
"You durned old rogue I will kill you!"

He split the witch-wife to the chin
Then hit's up behind and away again.

They's a piece of corn bread a-laying on the shelf
If you want more sung, you'll have to sing it yourself.

This version picks up that verse about "into his locks she flew..." from the Child C version. The tune for this version is much different from the Harmon/Hicks' version, and is much more bouncy.

Sandy, if you happen to be looking at any of this, I'd welcome any additional comments and insight that you may have.