Henry's Songbook

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To Be A Farmer's Boy

  • (Trad)

    The sun had set behind yon hill across the dreary moor
    When weary and lame a poor boy came up to a farmer's door
    Can you tell me where'er I'll be and of one who'll me employ
    To plough and sow, to reap and mow
    And be a farmer's boy, and be a farmer's boy

    My father's dead, my mother's left with five children great and small
    And what is worse for mother still I'm the eldest of them all
    Though little I am I would labour hard if you would me employ
    To plough and sow, to reap and mow
    And be a farmer's boy, and be a farmer's boy

    The farmer's wife cried, Try the lad, let him no longer seek
    Yes father do, the daughter cried as tears rolled down her cheek
    For those who would work 'tis hard for to want and to wander for employ
    Don't let him go, let him stay
    And be a farmer's boy, and be a farmer's boy

    The farmer's boy grew up a man and the good old couple died
    They left the lad the farm they had and the daughter for his bride
    Now the lad which was the farm now has often thinks and smiles with joy
    To bless the day he came that way
    And be a farmer's boy, and be a farmer's boy

    (as sung by The Spinners)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1976:] [This] must qualify as widespread, for as Peter Kennedy tells us in his 'Folksongs of Britain and Ireland', 'six or more tunes have been published for the song in Britain.' This well known version we learnt in school. (Notes 'The Spinners English Collection')

  • [1979:] An early eighteenth century origin has been suggested for this song, but I believe that it has a strong whiff of enclosure about it. The farm which is providentially inherited, lock, stock, and barrel, suggests an early nineteenth century mentality - and landscape. The tune most frequently used is Ye Sons of Albion, which dates from the time of the Napoleonic Wars; and the earliest record of the text which I have so far seen is an entry under the title of The Lucky Farmer's Boy in the 1832 catalogue of Catnach, the street ballad printer. Be this as it may, The Farmer's Boy (which should not be confused with the long poem of the same name by Robert Bloomfield, published in 1800) remained popular for a hundred years and more. It was sung as a kind of agricultural workers' anthem at the meetings called in the 1890s by George Edwards to revive the union. Even at the present time it is well-loved in country districts. The text varies hardly at all, but many different tunes are found with the song. However, [this is] the familiar air [...]. (Palmer, Country 43)

  • [1994:] This song [...] continues to this day in the affections of farm workers; but its theme of rags to riches and pauper to farmer is far removed from the bitter realism of the bothy tradition. (Roy Palmer, Living Tradition 4)

Quelle: England

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aktualisiert am 03.05.2002