Fieldwork and Festivities, which The New Hardy Players would have presented in Max Gate Gardens June 2020. Devised by Sue Worth
Fieldwork and Festivities Programme includes;
Poetry and Prose looking at the lives of Agricultural workers who brought food to table and festivities that brightened their year.
Farm Child R.S. Thomas
Look at the village boy, his head is stuffed
With all the nests he knows, his pockets with flowers,
Snail shells and bits of glass, the fruit of hours
Spent in the fields by thorn, and thistle tuft.
Look at his eyes, see the harebell hiding there;
Mark how the sun has freckled his smooth face
Like a finches egg and under that brush of hair
That dares the wind, and in the mixen now
Notice his poise, from such unconscious grace
Earth breeds and beckons to the stubborn plough.
To Be a Farmers Boy Traditional Song
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
We Field Women – 3 readers Thomas Hardy
How it rained
When we worked at Flintcomb-Ash,
And could not stand upon the hill
Trimming swedes for the slicing-mill.
The wet washed through us — plash, plash, plash:
How it rained!
How it snowed
When we crossed from Flintcomb-Ash
To the Great Barn for drawing reed,
Since we could nowise chop a swede. —
Flakes in each doorway and casement-sash:
How it snowed!
How it shone
When we went from Flintcomb-Ash
To start at dairywork once more
In the laughing meads, with cows three-score,
And pails, and songs, and love — too rash:
How it shone!
Tess of the D’urbervilles May Dance Thomas Hardy
Narrators x 2
The club of Marlott had walked for hundreds of years and it walked still. In addition to the distinction of a white frock, every woman and girl carried in her right hand a peeled willow wand, and in her left a bunch of white flowers. The peeling of the former, and the selection of the latter, had been an operation of personal care.
As there were no men in the company the girls danced at first with each other, but when the hour for the close of labour drew on, the masculine inhabitants of the village, together with other idlers and pedestrians, gathered round the spot, and appeared inclined to negotiate for a partner.
Among these on-lookers were three young men of a superior class, carrying small knapsacks strapped to their shoulders, and stout sticks in their hands. Their general likeness to each other, and their consecutive ages, would almost have suggested that they might be, what in fact they were, brothers.
ACQUINTANCE – to brothers Hello – what are you doing here!
FIRST BROTHER We’re spending the Witsun Holiday on a walking tour of the Vale of Blackmoor – heading Southwest from Shaston.
SECOND BROTHER What are you going to do, Angel?.
ANGEL I am inclined to go and have a fling with them. Why not all of us–just for a minute or two–it will not detain us long?
ELDEST BROTHER No–no; nonsense! Dancing in public with a troop of country hoydens–suppose we should be seen! Come along, or it will be dark before we get to Stourcastle, and there’s no place we can sleep at nearer than that; Besides, we must get through another chapter of A Counterblast to Agnosticism before we turn in, now I have taken the trouble to bring the book.”
ANGEL All right–I’ll overtake you and Cuthbert in five minutes; don’t stop; I give my word that I will, Felix.”
NARRATOR The two elder reluctantly left him and walked on, taking their brother’s knapsack to relieve him in following, and the youngest entered the field.
ANGEL To two or three of the nearby women This is a thousand pities – Where are your partners, my dears?
BOLDEST WOMAN They’ve not left off work yet -They’ll be here by and by. Till then, will you be one, sir?”
ANGEL Certainly. But what’s one among so many!
BOLDEST WOMAN Better than none. ‘Tis melancholy work facing and footing it to one of your own sort, and no clipsing and colling at all. Now, pick and choose.
SHYER WOMAN Ssh–don’t be so for’ard!
NARRATOR The young man, thus invited, clanged them over, and attempted some discrimination; but, as the group were all so new to him, he could not very well exercise it. He took almost the first that came to hand, which was not the speaker nor did it happen to be Tess Durbeyfield. Pedigree, ancestral skeletons, monumental record, the d’Urberville lineaments, did not help Tess in her life’s battle as yet, even to the extent of attracting to her a dancing-partner over the heads of the commonest peasantry. So much for Norman blood unaided by Victorian lucre.
The name of the eclipsing girl, whatever it was, has not been handed down; but she was envied by all – The village young men, now dropped in quickly, and soon the couples became leavened with rustic youth to a marked extent, till at length the plainest woman in the club was no longer compelled to foot it on the masculine side of the figure.
CHURCH CLOCK STRIKES
ANGEL Oh – I must leave! I’m forgetting himself- I have to join my brothers.
NARRATOR As Angel fell out of the dance his eyes lighted on Tess Durbeyfield. He was sorry then that, owing to her backwardness, he had not observed her; and with that in his mind he left the pasture and on account of his long delay started in a flying-run down the lane westward, and had soon passed the hollow and mounted the next rise. He had not yet overtaken his brothers, but he paused to get breath, and looked back. He could see the white figures of the girls in the green enclosure whirling about as they had whirled when he was among them. They seemed to have quite forgotten him already.
All of them, except, perhaps, one. This white shape stood apart by the hedge alone. From her position he knew it to be the pretty maiden with whom he had not danced.
The Lads and the Lasses a Sheep Shearing Go Traditional Song
From The Shepherds Year – June John Clare
The ploughman sweats along the fallow vales
And down the suncrackt furrow slowly trails
Oft seeking when athirst the brooks supply
Where brushing eager the brinks bushes bye
For coolest water he oft brakes the rest
Of ring dove brooding oer its idle nest
And there as loath to leave the swaily place
He’ll stand to breath and whipe his burning face
The shepherds idle hours are over now
Nor longer leaves him neath the hedgrow bough
On shadow pillowd banks and lolling stile
Wilds looses now their summer friends awhile
Shrill whistles barking dogs and chiding scold
Drive bleating sheep each morn from fallow fold
To wash pits where the willow shadows lean
Dashing them in their fold staind coats to clean
Then turnd on sunning sward to dry agen
They drove them homeward to the clipping pen
In hurdles pent where elm or sycamore
Shut out the sun-or in some threshing floor
There they wi scraps of songs and laugh and tale
Lighten their anual toils while merry ale
Goes round and gladdens old mens hearts to praise
The thread bare customs of old farmers days
Who while the sturting sheep wi trembling fears
Lies neath the snipping of his harmless sheers
Recalls full many a thing by bards unsung
And pride forgot-that reignd when he was young
How the hugh bowl was in the middle set
At breakfast time as clippers yearly met
Filld full of frumity where yearly swum
The streaking sugar and the spotting plumb
Which maids coud never to the table bring
Without one rising from the merry ring
To lend a hand who if twas taen amiss
Woud sell his kindness for a stolen kiss
The large stone pitcher in its homly trim
And clouded pint horn wi its copper rim
Oer which rude healths was drank in spirits high
From the best broach the cellar woud supply
While sung the ancient swains in homly ryhmes
Songs that were pictures of the good old times
Frumenty (sometimes called frumentee, furmity, fromity, or fermenty) was a popular dish in Western European from mediaeval times. It is a porridge, a thick boiled grain dish—hence its name, which derives from the Latin word frumentum, “grain”.
The typical method of preparation was to take clean wheat and bray it (beat it into small pieces) in a mortar well that the hulls go all off, (this means that the hulls are broken off) and seethe (boil) it till it burst, and take it up (drain it by taking it out of the water) and let it cool; and take fair fresh broth and sweet milk of almonds, or sweet milk of kine (cow’s milk) and temper it all, and take yolks of eggs. Boil it a little and set it down and plate and serve to table
Somerset–Wiltshire: About forty years ago (from an unspecified date) country women in shawls and sun bonnets used to come to the market at Weston-super-Mare in little carts carrying little basins of new wheat boiled to a jelly, which was put into a large pot with milk, eggs, and sultanas, and was lightly cooked.
A healthy dose of spirit is often mentioned as accompanying the frumenty as in the scene from Thomas Hardy’s the Mayor of Casterbridge when Michael Henchard sells his wife and child after consuming rather too much furmity laced with rum at a country fair.
In a Eweleaze near Weatherbury Thomas Hardy
The years have gathered grayly
Since I danced upon this leaze
With one who kindled gaily
Love’s fitful ecstasies!
But despite the term as teacher,
I remain what I was then
In each essential feature
Of the fantasies of men.
Yet I note the little chisel
Of never-napping Time,
Defacing ghast and grizzel
The blazon of my prime.
When at night he thinks me sleeping,
I feel him boring sly
Within my bones, and heaping
Quaintest pains for by-and-by.
Still, I’d go the world with Beauty,
I would laugh with her and sing,
I would shun divinest duty
To resume her worshipping.
But she’d scorn my brave endeavour,
She would not balm the breeze
By murmuring “Thine for ever!”
As she did upon this l
A Fiddler Walter De La Mare
Here lies a fiddler, play could he
Sweet as a bird in an almond tree.
Fingers and strings -they seemed to agree
Life itself is a melody.
Up slipped his bow, sloped leisurely –
Music’s self was its witchery.
His gut is broken. Mute lies he.
And the bird sings on in the almond tree
Here’s to the Hurdle Bumper From Norman Goodland’s ‘Down on the Farm’
Here’s to old the Hurdle-bumper
An’ the coat that he’s got on –
All cut by hisself from a sheep-skin –
And here’s to the hazel wand!
And here’s to he that can do the job
Wi nar rod nor twist would wrong!
Here’s to the gate done likely –
Well bowed, and bumped down true –
And here’s to the heel that wun’t fall off
An’ a weave you cain’t see through!
An here’s to the twist on the ensale edge-
Not less than ten and two!
Here’s to the man as knows ‘em –
An can tell ‘em wi ‘is eye!
Who wants ‘em square from top to foot –
Who lifts one end to try –
And if they bends and whips about
And wun’t bide stiff – wun’t buy!
And here’s to he who coppices –
Which is the proper thing –
When wand be tough in Autumn!
And when sap do rise in Spring –
Here’s to he as wun’t make ‘em green –
Nor try to sell such a thing!
Here’s to the man as sets ‘em up!
Who knows – to make em last –
The wind mun’t chaff nor rub ‘em.
So he do fix em fast
To oaken posts as never rots –
And not that old stub-ash
So here’s to the old Hurdle-bumper
An the coat that he’s got on –
All cut by hisself from a sheep skin –
And here’s to the hazel wand!
And here’s to he as can do the job
Wi’ nar rod nor twist wound wrong!
From Dorset Dear M.E. Francis
The previous day had been sultry and wild, with spells of fierce sunshine that smote down upon honest people’s heads as they toiled in cornfield or potato plot, bringing great drops of sweat on sunburnt faces, and forcing more than one labourer to supplement the shad and comfort of his broad chip hat by a cool moist cabbage leaf.
(Father of New Hardy Player Devina Symes also told her of this method of keeping cool while working outdoors in the full heat of summer)
Tess of the D’urbervilles – Swede Field Thomas Hardy
They worked on hour after hour, unconscious of the forlorn aspect they bore in the landscape, not thinking of the justice or injustice of their lot. Even in such a position as theirs it was possible to exist in a dream. In the afternoon the rain came on again, and Marian said that they need not work any more. But if they did not work, they would not be paid; so they worked on. It was so high a situation, this field, that the rain had no occasion to fall, but raced along horizontally upon the yelling wind, sticking into them like glass splinters till they were wet through. Tess had not known till now what was really meant by that. There are degrees of dampness, and a very little is called being wet through in common talk. But to stand working slowly in a field, and feel the creep of rain-water, first in legs and shoulders, then on hips and head, then at back, front, and sides, and yet to work on till the leaden light diminishes and marks that the sun is down, demands a distinct modicum of stoicism, even of valour.
I Got Two Vields William Barnes
I got two vields, an’ I don’t ceäre
What squire mid have a bigger sheäre.
My little zummer-leäze do stratch
All down the hangèn, to a patch
O’ meäd between a hedge an’ rank
Ov elems, an’ a river bank.
Where yollow clotes, in spreadèn beds
O’ floatèn leaves, do lift their heads
By bendèn bulrushes an’ zedge
A-swaÿèn at the water’s edge,
Below the withy that do spread
Athirt the brook his grey-leav’d head.
An’ eltrot flowers, milky white,
Do catch the slantèn evenèn light;
An’ in the meäple boughs, along
The hedge, do ring the blackbird’s zong;
Or in the day, a-vleèn drough
The leafy trees, the whoa’se gookoo
Do zing to mowers that do zet
Their zives on end, an’ stan’ to whet.
From my wold house among the trees
A leäne do goo along the leäze
O’ yollow gravel, down between
Two mossy banks vor ever green.
An’ trees, a-hangèn overhead,
Do hide a trinklèn gully-bed,
A-cover’d by a bridge vor hoss
Or man a-voot to come across.
Zoo wi’ my hwomestead, I don’t ceäre
What squire mid have a bigger sheäre!
Pace Egging Pace comes from the Latin Pacha – meaning Easter. Pace Egging was best known in Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland.. On Easter Sunday morning the Pace Eggers or Jolly-Boys, would go their rounds begging for decorated eggs and performing the Pace Egging Play. An Easter version of a Mumming Play. With character names such as “Old Tosspot, Betsy Brownbags or Lord Nelson”
Pace Egging Song
Here’s one, two, three jolly lads all in one mind
We have come a pace egging and we hope you’ll prove kind
We hope you’ll prove kind with your eggs and strong beer
For we’ll come no more nigh you until the next year
And the first that comes in is Lord Nelson you’ll see
With a bunch of blue ribbons tied round by his knee
And a star on his beast that like silver do shine
And I hope he remembers it’s pace egging time
And the next that comes in, it is Lord Collingwood
He fought with Lord Nelson till he shed his blood
And he’s come from the sea old England to view
And he’s come a pace egging with all of his crew
The next that comes in is our Jolly Jack Tar
He sailed with Lord Nelson all through the last war
He’s arrived from the sea, old England to view
And he’s come a pace egging with our jovial crew
The next that comes in is old miser Brownbags
For fear of her money she wears her old rags
She’s gold and she’s silver all laid up in store
And she’s come a pace egging in hopes to get more
Come ladies and gentlemen, sit by the fire
Put your hands in your pockets and give us our desire
Put your hands in your pockets and treat us all right
If you give nought, we’ll take nought, farewell and goodnight
If you can drink one glass, then we can drink two
Here’s a health to Victoria, the same unto you
Mind what you’re doing and see that all’s right
If you give naught, we take naught, farewell and good nigh
Garland Day at Abbotsbury
In the past when there was a local mackerel fishing fleet the 13th of May was Garland Day at Abbotsbury. It was a combination of blessing the fleet and waters and a May celebration. Garlands were taken to the boats in a procession, blessed and taken out to sea to be left as an offering on the waters. This ceremony, of considerable age and locally said “to go back for a thousand years!” marked the beginning of the fishing season.
From The Twelfth of May in Old Burton Douglas Northover
Or is it some more humble lay,
Children hied to banks and bowers,
Armfuls picked of nature’s flowers;
Primrose, bluebell, violet, crewel
And purple orchid, natures jewel.
Across the meadow by the stream
Where the chewing cattle dream
There to pick the yellow flags,
And Lords and Ladies to their bags.
Eventide upon the green
Was on parade the the village seen;
Fishermen in Sunday suits,
Labourers with polished boots.
Were led to where the green cliff towers
By parson, book in hand, who stopped
To bless the fields so lately cropped.
Down the cliff’s old stumbling road,
With many a helping hand they strode.
Across the shingled crunching beach
The Lord a blessing to beseech
Upon the harvest of the sea
That safe the men and boats would be.
That garlands floated on the sea,
Then garlands floated on the waves
In homage to the Lord who saves.
The Solitary Reaper William Wordsworth
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No Nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings? –
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Familiar matter of today?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
Whate’er the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;-
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
From Elegy in a Country Churchyard Thomas Grey
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The Woodlanders, Midsummer’s Eve Thomas Hardy
Narrator Several village girls in a group–some steadily walking, some in a mood of wild gayety passed. Edred Fitzpiers quietly asked his landlady, who was also in the garden, what these girls were intending.
Landlady It being Old Midsummer Eve, they’re about to attempt some spell or enchantment which will afford them a glimpse of their future partners for life. It’s an ungodly performance, and one, for my part, I would never countenance!
Narrator Saying which, she entered her house and retired to bed.
Fitzpiers lit a cigar and followed the bevy of maidens slowly up the road. Then, under the shade of a young oak, intently observing Grace Melbury, who was in the full rays of the moon.
At that minute the girls, some of whom were from Great Hintock, were seen advancing to work the incantation, it being now about midnight.
1st Woman Loosing Courage Directly we see anything we’ll run home as fast as we can,
2nd Woman I wish we had not thought of trying this, but had contented ourselves with the hole-digging to-morrow at twelve, and hearing our husbands’ trades. It is too much like having dealings with the Evil One to try to raise their forms.
Narrator However, they had gone too far to recede, and slowly began to march forward in a skirmishing line through the trees towards the deeper recesses of the wood. As far as the listeners could gather, the particular form of black-art to be practised on this occasion was one connected with the sowing of hemp-seed.
Suke Would you like to join us Miss?
Grace excitedly Oh! Yes
Grammer to Marty Why didn’t ye go and try your luck with the rest of the maids.
Marty I don’t believe in it.
Granmer Why, half the parish is here–the silly hussies should have kept
it quiet. I see Mr. Winterborne through the leaves, just come up with Robert Creedle. Marty, we ought to act the part o’Providence sometimes. Do go and tell him that if he stands just behind the bush at the bottom of the slope, Miss Grace must pass down it when she comes back, and she will most likely rush into his arms; for as soon as the clock strikes, they’ll bundle back home–along like hares. I’ve seen such larries before.
Marty Do you think I’d better?” said Marty, reluctantly.
Granmer Oh yes, he’ll bless ye for it.
Marty I don’t want that kind of blessing.
Narrator But after a moment’s thought she went and delivered the information; and Grammer had the satisfaction of seeing Giles Winterborne walk slowly to the bend along which Grace would have to return. Meanwhile Mrs. Melbury, who had discerned what her husband had not, that Grace was rapidly fascinating the surgeon, drew near to Edred Fitzpiers.
Mrs Melbury You should be where Mr. Winterborne is standing. She will run down through that opening much faster than she went up it, if she is like the rest of the girls.”
Narrator Fitzpiers did not require to be told twice. He went across to Giles Winterborne and stood beside him. Each knew the probable purpose of the other in standing there, and neither spoke.
The first sound to break the silence was the distant note of Great Hintock clock striking the significant hour.
Women together Mime throwing hemp seed over their right shoulder and all say the rhyme
Hemp seed I set, Hemp seed I sow
The man that is my true love come after me now
Narrator About a minute later that quarter of the wood to which the girls had wandered resounded with the flapping of disturbed birds; then two or three hares and rabbits as the girls bounded down the glade.
Grace Melbury, was one of the first to return, and the excitement being contagious, she flew round the fatal bush where the undergrowth narrowed to a gorge. Fitzpiers quickly stepped forward in front of Winterborne, and then the surgeon did what he would not have thought of doing but for Mrs. Melbury’s encouragement and the sentiment of an eve which effaced conventionality. Stretching out his arms as the white figure burst upon him, he captured her in a moment, as if she had been a bird.
Here’s a Health to the Barleymow Traditional Song
(all invited to join in)