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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Play Information

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TitleShepherd and the maiden
Alternative Title
WordsWilliams, Alfred
Collected FromHarvey, Henry [Wassail]
Occupation
Age
Date
LocationCricklade
CountyWiltshire
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 366
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 22nd January, 1916, p 2, Part 15, No. 4: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923, 170, 171
Recording
 
The Play
SHEPHERD

Once I was made a shepherd on the plains,
Courting my shepherdess among the swains;
But now my courting life I'll bid adieu,
And a more melancholy way pursue.

The shade my coverlet, the bank my bed,
Where on the flowery pillows I lay my head;
My mates the fruits that grow about the field,
My drink the tears my eyes in sorrow yield.

But ah! Who comes! What shining beauty's this,
Disturbs my solitude and shady bliss?

MAIDEN

I am one that is lost in a wilderness of care,
Where I find nothing to prevent despair;
I am a harmless damsel wandering on the plain,
I'm lost and fear I never shall be found again.

Look here, look here, there's nothing to b seen,
But woods and groves and meadows all in green;
I am so thirsty I scarce can speak.

SHEPHERD

Must she grieve thus and not my heart strings break?
She sees me not; then I'll accost her first.
"Pray! Take this bottle and so quench your thirst."

MAIDEN

It's good indeed, but you much better be,
For being so courteous as to give it to me.

SHEPHERD

Had I a more worthy gift, to call it mine,
Proud would I be, dear maid, to name it thine.

MAIDEN

Thou art more worthy than all gifts beside;
Ask what thou wilt, it shall not be denied.

SHEPHERD

Then speak I will, by such fair promise led,
What I shall ask is for thyself to wed.

MAIDEN

Since that I was about the woody ground,
Receive me here, and keep what thou hast found;
Come! Lead me forward to my father's court,
And we'll grace our nuptials with some friendly sport.
 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS / FSUT: 'This is a crude rustic play, rather than a song. It was acted at 'Bark Harvest', the summer festival of the tan yard workers at Cricklade and at Christmas time by the players at the farmhouses. There was probably other dialogue not in rhyme, but I cannot speak of it with certainty. Obtained of Wassail Harvey, late of Cricklade.'

Note 2

In WGS and FSUT the initial stanzas are in single blocks of text, not split as in the Ms.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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