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Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden

Related threads:
Lyr Req: The White Hare (Watersons) (22)
Versions of The White Hare (of Howden) (11)


GUEST,margaret_bye@hotmail.com 16 Feb 01 - 03:11 PM
catspaw49 16 Feb 01 - 03:19 PM
Les from Hull 16 Feb 01 - 03:33 PM
MMario 16 Feb 01 - 03:40 PM
MMario 16 Feb 01 - 03:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Feb 01 - 03:45 PM
Garry Gillard 17 Feb 01 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Michael Kazich 22 Apr 21 - 06:43 AM
Brian Peters 22 Apr 21 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,Michael Kazich 22 Apr 21 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,JeffB 22 Apr 21 - 01:02 PM
Brian Peters 23 Apr 21 - 05:17 AM
Steve Gardham 24 Apr 21 - 04:54 PM
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Subject: The White Hare of Howden
From: GUEST,margaret_bye@hotmail.com
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:11 PM

I am looking for the lyrics to this song. It was on one of the early Waterson albums, but I am not able to understand all the words. Thanks for your help.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:19 PM

On the Waterson site but it doesn't seem to be up at the moment.........hum2mac1.murdoch.edu.au/watersons/white.html You can find it at Dick Gaughan's site which you might bookmark and check in at. It will be a link to the same site I listed........Gaughan's Index Page--Click Here

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:33 PM

It's also know as the White Hare of Oldham, but Mike Waterson thought it should be more local (Howden's in Yorkshire, Oldham is in that other county). Most of these songs were sung about 'a place near here'.

I know what you mean about not understanding the words - I'm from the same city and I have trouble. If you can't get it soon, get back to me and I'll try to transcibe it for you.

Les


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHITE HARE OF HOWDEN (from Mike Waterson)
From: MMario
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:40 PM

THE WHITE HARE OF HOWDEN
(Mike Waterson's version)

In Howden Town in Howden Town as I have heard them tell
Oh once there was a white hare uséd there to dwell
She's been hunted by the greyhounds and the beagle dogs so fair
But there's never one amongst them can come up to this white
hare

chorus
For she's faster than the black and she's bonnier than the brown
And there's not a dog in England as'll ever bring her down

Oh and when they came unto the place where this white hare did
lie
The beagles they uncoupled and they began to try
And then all the crafty greyhounds they beat the bush around
But there never was a white hare in that field to be found

chorus

Oh says Jimmy the bold huntsman then to Tom the whipper-in
Go look in yonder fernside to see if she lies in
Well with that she gave a jump boys fast away she ran
And it's yonder that she's going just as fast as e'er she can

chorus

Oh both horse and foot they did them unto the place draw nigh
Thinking that the white hare was going for to die
But she slipped out of the bush boys over Howden Hill
And the beagles and the greyhounds they was one short in the kill

chorus


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHITE HARE OF HOWDEN (from Joseph Taylor)
From: MMario
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:43 PM

THE WHITE HARE OF HOWDEN
Joseph Taylor's version

Near Oldham town near Oldham town as I have heard them
tell;
There once was a white hare that used there for to dwell;
She'd been hunted by beagles and greyhounds so fair,
But ne'er a one amongst them could come near this old white
hare,
With me ri-tol-the-didel-ol, the-ri-tol-the-day.

They went to the place where the white hare used to lie;
They uncoupl-ed their beagles and beginning for to try,
They uncoupl-ed their beagles and they beat the bushes round,
But there was never a white hare not there to be found,
With me ri-tol-the-didel-ol, the-ri-tol-the-day.

There was Jim Smith the huntsman and Tom the whipper-in;
Go down to yonder furze-side to see if she be in;
With that she took a jump me-boys, and away she did run,
And yonder she is going, don't you see her gentlemen,
With me ri-tol-the-didel-ol, the-ri-tol-the-day.

The footmen they did run and the horsemen they did ride;
Such holloa-ing and shouting there was on every side,
Such holloa-ing and shouting I never before had known
And all the men kept crying, "Tally O, tally O,"
With me ri-tol-the-didel-ol, the-ri-tol-the-day.

There was twenty good beagles that caused this hare to die,
There was not one amongst them above a foot high
The number of the dogs there, never could be found
And never better hunting upon old English ground,
With me ri-tol-the-didel-ol, the-ri-tol-the-day.



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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Feb 01 - 03:45 PM

Joseph Taylor's text was posted in this earlier discussion:  White Hare


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 04:35 AM

I believe MMario has taken those texts from my transcriptions without attribution. Pity, since it was a lot of time and commitment, and there is additional information on my site.

Spaw, that's the old address: I moved all my stuff to a better server - as in the URL above.

Garry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: GUEST,Michael Kazich
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 06:43 AM

Hello all,

Thanks for all the information above. I've come to this song through the Carthy & Swarbrick version. I'm always intrigued by the hint of the supernatural in folk descriptions of legendary animals, which often seem to be of white hue. The hare's "magic" seems to run out towards the end of the Taylor/Carthy version - which is a shame, I always felt the tenor of the song set the conclusion up for one more miraculous escape, which is what appears to happen in the Waterson lyrics. But, I've never quite understood the number of beagles that never could be found. Do the dogs disappear? Is it one of the hare's final tricks?

Cheers,

Michael


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 10:03 AM

The range of the mountain hare (which turns white in winter) does extend to Saddleworth Moor near Oldham, but since most of the broadside versions of the song locate the hunt in 'Maxfield' or 'Mansfield', that may not be significant. Frank Kidson printed a version set in Howden, so Mike Waterson didn't make that bit up.

I've always understood the line, 'the number of dogs they never could be found' in the sense 'the number couldn't be counted' - maybe there were just too many, apart from the twenty that made the kill?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: GUEST,Michael Kazich
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 12:30 PM

Hi Brian,

I hadn't considered that hares in northern latitudes would turn white in winter, as do stoats to ermines and a number of other mammals.

The "never could be counted" interpretation does make sense too, though its more prosaic than I'd hoped!

A final question - does anyone know the origin of the Carthy & Swarbrick tune?

Cheers,

Michael


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: GUEST,JeffB
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 01:02 PM

The mountain hare was introduced into the Peak District from Scotland in the 1870s. It seems that it was never very numerous, and is now endangered. The coat of the more common brown hare is sometimes variable. It can be a light golden colour, but is never black. Like any other mammal, albinos can occur.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Apr 21 - 05:17 AM

Yes, JeffB, they were indeed re-introduced, which would mean that, if the location 'near Oldham' were to have any connection with mountain hares, it would have to have been introduced to the song after the re-introduction. But I'm more inclined to believe now that it may after all have arisen as a mis-hearing of 'Howden', which itself was a localisation of the original 'Mansfield'. In which case the hare must have been an albino, and therefore a remarkable phnomenon in the eyes of the hunters. I'm probably over-thinking this!

The local population of mountain hares is declining, but I still see them quite regularly up on Bleaklow and Kinder.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The White Hare of Howden
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 21 - 04:54 PM

Another location given on northern broadsides was Maxwell Town in the Scottish Borders and this may have been the original as I don't think Maxfield exists. Maxwell to Maxfield to Mansfield may have been the progression. There are 3 localised versions in The Holme Valley Beagles song book.

The song is very likely a generalised piece as such songs often mention several place names and personal names whereas here we have the setting and a Jemmy and a Tom.

I think some form of albino is the more likely as in the song it is treated as a one off, whereas if it was a hare with a winter coat there would have been several such.

'The number of dogs' etc. has to be seen in context of the full 2 lines.

The number of dogs they never could be found, nor never better hunting upon the English ground. The word 'better' is to be applied to both things being described, in other words it's glorifying the pack and the hunt itself.


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