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Full Online Book HomePoemsThe Sword-dancers' Song
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The Sword-dancers' Song Post by :activemark Category :Poems Author :Unknown Date :May 2011 Read :3496

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The Sword-dancers' Song

(Sword-dancing is not so common in the North of England as it was a few years ago; but a troop of rustic practitioners of the art may still be occasionally met with at Christmas time, in some of the most secluded of the Yorkshire dales. The following is a copy of the introductory song, as it used to be sung by the Wharfdale sword-dancers. It has been transcribed from a MS. in the possession of Mr. Holmes, surgeon, at Grassington, in Craven. At the conclusion of the song a dance ensues, and sometimes a rustic drama is performed. See post, p. 175. Jumping Joan, alluded to in the last verse, is a well-known old country dance tune.)

The spectators being assembled, the CLOWN enters, and after drawing a circle with his sword, walks round it, and calls in the actors in the following lines, which are sung to the accompaniment of a violin played outside, or behind the door.


The first that enters on the floor,
His name is Captain Brown;
I think he is as smart a youth
As any in this town:
In courting of the ladies gay,
He fixes his delight;
He will not stay from them all day,
And is with them all the night.

The next's a tailor by his trade,
Called Obadiah Trim;
You may quickly guess, by his plain dress,
And hat of broadest brim,
That he is of the Quaking sect,
Who would seem to act by merit
Of yeas and nays, and hums and hahs,
And motions of the spirit.

The next that enters on the floor,
He is a foppish knight;
The first to be in modish dress,
He studies day and night.
Observe his habit round about, -
Even from top to toe;
The fashion late from France was brought, -
He's finer than a beau!

Next I present unto your view
A very worthy man;
He is a vintner, by his trade,
And Love-ale is his name.
If gentlemen propose a glass,
He seldom says 'em nay,
But does always think it's right to drink,
While other people pay.

The next that enters on the floor,
It is my beauteous dame;
Most dearly I do her adore,
And Bridget is her name.
At needlework she does excel
All that e'er learnt to sew,
And when I choose, she'll ne'er refuse,
What I command her do.

And I myself am come long since,
And Thomas is my name;
Though some are pleased to call me Tom,
I think they're much to blame:
Folks should not use their betters thus,
But I value it not a groat,
Though the tailors, too, that botching crew,
Have patched it on my coat.

I pray who's this we've met with here,
That tickles his trunk wame? {1}
We've picked him up as here we came,
And cannot learn his name:
But sooner than he's go without,
I'll call him my son Tom;
And if he'll play, be it night or day,
We'll dance you JUMPING JOAN.

 

Footnote: {1} A cant term for a fiddle. In its literal sense, it means trunk, or box-belly.


(The end)
Anonymous's poem: Sword-Dancers' Song

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