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Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson

DigiTrad:
SCARECROW


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GUEST,Fanny 08 Mar 06 - 02:48 AM
Paul Burke 08 Mar 06 - 03:03 AM
Mr Fox 08 Mar 06 - 12:59 PM
nutty 08 Mar 06 - 02:44 PM
Paul Burke 09 Mar 06 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Nicholas Waller 09 Mar 06 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,Fanny 10 Mar 06 - 02:21 AM
Mr Fox 10 Mar 06 - 05:48 AM
Garry Gillard 10 Mar 06 - 06:07 AM
Snuffy 10 Mar 06 - 09:13 AM
Snuffy 11 Mar 06 - 06:05 AM
GUEST,Rick the yank 29 Sep 18 - 01:44 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Sep 18 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,Grishka 29 Sep 18 - 09:23 AM
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Subject: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: GUEST,Fanny
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:48 AM

I love "The Scarecrow" by Lal Waterson, but I find the lyrics to be quite enigmatic. (I'm American, so I don't understand some of the references.) Who is the speaker and why would she say "Ah, but you'd lay me down and love me, if you could" to a scarecrow, etc.?

Also what kind of celebration does the last verse refer to (who are "dons"):

As I rode out one fine spring day,
I saw twelve jolly dons dressed out in the blue and the gold so gay.
And to a stake they tied a child new born,
And the songs were sung, the bells was rung, and they sowed their corn.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Water
From: Paul Burke
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 03:03 AM

It's an expolration of the descent of fertility ritual, from human sacrifice down to the scarecrow, an effigy substituting for the human. Taking in Morris dancers on the way (12 jolly dons). A bit Golden Bough.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: Mr Fox
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 12:59 PM

"It's an expolration of the descent of fertility ritual, from human sacrifice down to the scarecrow, an effigy substituting for the human. Taking in Morris dancers on the way (12 jolly dons). A bit Golden Bough."

Except morris dancers wear white. The celebration is May Day, certainly, and the "to a stake they tied a child new born" is certainly a reference to human sacrifice, either symbolic or genuine.

Isn't there some sort of May ritual in the university towns? Perhaps they are the 'dons' refereed to.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Water
From: nutty
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:44 PM

This ... from TheFreeDictionary

Don - Celtic goddess; mother of Gwydion and Arianrhod; corresponds to Irish Danu

I'm not sure if it is relevant but ..............


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Water
From: Paul Burke
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 03:23 AM

OK Mr Fox, if they aren't Morris dancers (not all of whom wear white), they'll have to be cricketers dolled up for a floodlit match. Including the guy with the drinks tray.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Water
From: GUEST,Nicholas Waller
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 03:28 PM

I looked Screcrow up on Digitrad and the "dons" word isn't mentioned; the line goes: "Saw twelve jolly guards sticked out in the blue and the gold so gay".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: GUEST,Fanny
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:21 AM

I'm listening to the June Tabor version, in which she says "dons." I took the lyrics from garrygillard.net and assumed the only difference between the two versions is that June Tabor says "decked" instead of "dressed."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: Mr Fox
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 05:48 AM

"OK Mr Fox, if they aren't Morris dancers (not all of whom wear white), they'll have to be cricketers dolled up for a floodlit match. Including the guy with the drinks tray."

Paul, you've got it. The line should be "To a STUMP they tied a child new-born" - It's a sacrifice to the sun god to keep the rain off for the duration of the match!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Water
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 06:07 AM

Mike Waterson sings "I saw twelve jolly dons dressed out in the blue and the gold so gay" on the original recording - and he wrote the song, together with his sister Lal. (I've always found it odd that he sings it on Bright Phoebus, rather than she.) A "don" is a Spanish nobleman, and from that (oddly) a senior member of staff at a university (esp. Oxbridge). Why either of these classes of person would be involved in human sacrifice is beyond me - but it's a wonderfully evocative song.

Garry Gillard


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 09:13 AM

The word "don" is descended from the latin "dominus", meaning "master". Both noblemen and teachers would naturally be referred to as The Master.

I think I recall seeing a song in a Harry Boardman book which referred to someone being a don at fighting or drinking or some such. Again the implication would be that he was masterful at this activity.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: Snuffy
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 06:05 AM

I have managed to track down that reference to "dons". It is in Folk Songs and Ballads of Lancashire by Harry & Lesley Boardman, OAk, 1973. The 4th verse of The Bard's Reformation by Samuel Bamford runs:
Adieu to the lads who are dons in the fray,
I've borne their sore bruises for mony a day;
There's Darby an' Dobbin,
Mad Ab' an' Rough Robin,
For kickin' or nobbin',
Do carry the bay,
There's no country gobbin can bear it away.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: GUEST,Rick the yank
Date: 29 Sep 18 - 01:44 AM

Maybe the blue and gold refer to the don's school colors rather than field and sky but over here corn means maize not just generic grain, and corn fields stay pretty green. So I'm thinking symbolically the human sacrifice reverts at the end to a child starting out in life in what we call public education, to be brought up for the sake of the system - a life used only as a cog in the wheel. The bells and songs could symbolize a religious service like a baptism for a newborn? But what do I know as a yank - we're still trying to figure out American Pie. When you guys get scarecrow figured out please take on what the Piltdown man is grunting on Tubular Bells.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Sep 18 - 03:19 AM

I thought of MK Dons football team but their strip is white and gold, red and gold away and black and gold 3rd choice. If only they had chosen blue we could have solved the riddle :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Meaning of The Scarecrow by Lal Waterson
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 29 Sep 18 - 09:23 AM

Interesting poem.

One thing seems clear to me: the "child new born" is not being sacrificed. It must be the youngest incarnation of the same scarecrow figure mentioned in the first two verses at different ages. They all tell the narrator to love them, but s/he suspects that they are not real humans.

Also, I am not sure whether any existing ritual is referred to at all. A scarecrow is obviously a realistic object, but who is the old man? A Guy Fawkes effigy would be burned, not hung / hanged.

As for the dons, they might be symbolic of the twelve months. The passing of the seasons is an old symbol of the sequence of generations and ages. The corn (= wheat, thus yellow enough) seems to grow every year, but lovable human value remains doubtful.

Anyone with better ideas?


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