Markets and Merrymaking Programme, which The New Hardy Players would have presented in Max Gate Gardens in July 2020. Devised by Sue Worth
Markets and Merry Making Programme includes;
Poetry and Prose looking at the lives of Agricultural workers who brought food to table and The business of gathering, buying, selling and getting foods to market, recounted in poetry, prose, song and memories, interwoven with merriment and a certain friskiness that comes with the arrival of warmer weather.
I’ll Mount the Air on Swallows Wings Mrs Crawford, West Milton
(one of the songs from the Hammond collection)
I’ll mount the air on swallows’ wings, to find my dearest dear
And if I lose my labour and cannot find him there,
I quickly will become a fish to search the roaring sea;
I love my love because I know my lover, he loves me.
Day of These Days Laurie Lee
Such a morning it is when love
leans through geranium windows
and calls with a cockerel’s tongue.
When red-haired girls scamper like roses
over the rain-green grass;
and the sun drips honey.
When hedgerows grow venerable,
berries dry black as blood,
and holes suck in their bees.
Such a morning it is when mice
run whispering from the church,
dragging dropped ears of harvest.
When the partridge draws back his spring
and shoots like a buzzing arrow
over grained and mahogany fields.
When no table is bare,
and no beast dry
and the tramp feeds on ribs of rabbit.
To Make Sweet Hay Leonard Studley born 1909
Love binds love as hay binds hay,
Then let us both lay by our rope
And go – kiss within the hay
To make sweet hay, first you take a wisp of hay from the rue and twist it into a hay rope, two or three feet long, then, holding one end in each hand, run after one of the girls or women who may be helping, and catch her by throwing the loop of hay rope over her head, pull her to you, both roll in the hay and in that way, made sweet hay. Leonard writes of seeing sweet hay being made, adding that modern machinery has taken so much of the fun out of haymaking.
Hazelnuts and fertility Leonard also wrote of harvesting the hedgerows and of a superstition, a legend, concerning hazel nuts. A good crop of these nuts foretold a good crop of babies.
Song The Nutting Girl Traditional Song
Now come all you jovial fellows, come listen to me song.
It is a little ditty and it won’t contain you long.
It’s of a fair young damsel, oh she lived down in Kent,
Arose one summer’s morning and she a-nutting went.
Chorus (repeated after each verse):
With my fal-lal to my ral-tal-lal
And what few nuts that poor girl had
She threw them all away.
Now it’s of a brisk young farmer, was a-ploughing of his land,
He called unto his horses to bid them gently stand.
As he sat down upon his plough all for a song to sing,
His voice was so melodious, it made the valleys ring.
Now it’s of this brisk young damsel, was nutting in the wood,
His voice was so melodious, it charmed her as she stood.
She could no longer stay and what few nuts she had, poor girl,
She threw them all away.
Well she then came to young Johnny as he sat on his plough,
Said she, “Young man I really feel I cannot tell you how.”
So he took her to some shady broom and there he laid her down,
Said she, “Young man, I think I feel the world go round and round.”
So come all you young women, this warning by me take,
Oh, if you should a-nutting go, don’t stay out too late.
For if you should stay too late for to hear that ploughboy sing,
You might have a young farmer to nurse up in the spring.
Market Day John Clare
With arms and legs at work and gentle stroke
That urges switching tail nor mends his pace,
On an old ribbed and weather beaten horse,
The farmer goes jogtrotting to the fair.
Both keep their pace that nothing can provoke
Followed by brindled dog that snuffs the ground
With urging bark and hurries at his heels.
His hat slouched down, and great coat buttoned close
Bellied like hooped keg, and chuffy face
Red as the morning sun, he takes his round
And talks of stock: and when his jobs are done
And Dobbin’s hay is eaten from the rack,
He drinks success to corn in language hoarse,
And claps old Dobbin’s hide, and potters back.
Mayor of Casterbridge Thomas Hardy
The Casterbridge Market-man added to his utterance a broadening of the cheeks, a crevicing of the eyes, a throwing back of the shoulders, which was intelligible from the other end of the street.
The Market Girl Thomas Hardy
NOBODY took any notice of her as she stood on the causey kerb,
All eager to sell her honey and apples and bunches of garden herb;
And if she had offered to give her wares and herself with them too that day,
I doubt if a soul would have cared to take a bargain so choice away.
But chancing to trace her sunburnt grace that morning as I passed nigh,
I went and said “Poor maidy dear! – and will none of the people buy?
And so it began; and soon we knew what the end of it all must be,
And I found that though no others had bid, a prize had been won by me.
from ‘Witsuntide an Club Walken’ William Barnes
Ees, last Whit-Monday, I an’ Meäry
Got up betimes to mind the deäiry;
An’ gi’ed the milkèn païls a scrub,
An’ dress’d, an’ went to zee the club.
Vor up at public-house, by ten
O’clock the pleäce wer vull o’ men,
A-dress’d to goo to church, an’ dine,
An’ walk about the pleäce in line.
Zoo off they started, two an’ two,
Wi’ païnted poles an’ knots o’ blue,
An’ girt silk flags,–I wish my box
‘D a-got em all in ceäpes an’ frocks,–
A-weävèn wide an’ flappèn loud
In plaÿsome winds above the crowd;
While fifes did squeak an’ drums did rumble,
An’ deep beäzzoons did grunt an’ grumble,
An’ all the vo’k in gath’rèn crowds
Kick’d up the doust in smeechy clouds,
That slowly rose an’ spread abrode
In streamèn aïr above the road.
An’ then at church there wer sich lots
O’ hats a-hangèn up wi’ knots,
An’ poles a-stood so thick as iver,
The rushes stood beside a river.
Grandmothers Riddles Leonard Studley
Four lily-landers, Four step-standers, Two hookers, Two lookers and a wiz-a-bout
Long legs, Crooked thighs, Little head and No eyes? Fire-side-tongs
Head like an apple, Neck like a swan, Back like a greyhound, Three legs to stand on.
Beltane first day of Summer Celebrating the Seasons S Fox
The ancient pagan, festival of BELTANE , the first day of summer was celebrated at the beginning of May. Celebrating the height of Spring and the flowering of life The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as The May King and Jack in the Green. The Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. It is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality and delight. A tree would be stripped of its bark and decorated with flowers and garlands
From ‘The Maypole’ Robert Herrick 1648
The Maypole is up
Now give me the Cup
I’ll drink to the garlands around it.
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers around it.
First of May from Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the Hawthorne Tree
Will ever after handsome be
It was the phallic symbol of the Maypole and the bawdy revelry it engendered that became an image that the Victorians were keen to clean up. Hence, they succeeded in sanitising it into the rustic children’s dancing that we see today.
The Sheep Fair Thomas Hardy
The day arrives of the autumn fair,
And torrents fall,
Though sheep in throngs are gathered there,
Ten thousand all,
Sodden, with hurdles round them reared:
And, lot by lot, the pens are cleared,
And the auctioneer wrings out his beard,
And wipes his book, bedrenched and smeared,
And takes the rain from his face with the edge of his hand,
As torrents fall.
The wool of the ewes is like a sponge
With the daylong rain:
Jammed tight, to turn, or lie, or lunge,
They strive in vain.
Their horns are soft as finger-nails,
Their shepherds reek against the rails,
The tied dogs soak with tucked-in tails,
The buyers’ hat-brims fill like pails,
Which spill small cascades when they shift their stand
In the daylong rain.
Meg Merrilies John Keats
Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
And liv’d upon the Moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.
Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants pods o’ broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a churchyard tomb.
Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
Her Sisters larchen trees—
Alone with her great family
She liv’d as she did please.
No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And ‘stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the Moon.
But every morn of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen Yew
She wove, and she would sing.
And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited Mats o’ Rushes,
And gave them to the Cottagers
She met among the Bushes.
Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore;
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere—
She died full long agone!
Dance Scene from Mayor of Casterbridge Thomas Hardy
Narrators x 2 The notes of a stringed band came from the enclosure that Farfrae had erected—the pavilion as he called it—and when the Mayor reached it he perceived that a gigantic tent had been ingeniously constructed without poles or ropes. The densest point of the avenue of sycamores had been selected, where the boughs made a closely interlaced vault overhead; to these boughs the canvas had been hung, and a barrel roof was the result. The end towards the wind was enclosed, the other end was open.
In form it was like the nave of a cathedral with one gable removed, but the scene within was anything but devotional. A reel or fling of some sort was in progress; and the usually sedate Farfrae was in the midst of the other dancers in the costume of a wild Highlander, flinging himself about and spinning to the tune. For a moment Henchard could not help laughing. Then he perceived the immense admiration for the Scotchman that revealed itself in the women’s faces; and when this exhibition was over, and a new dance proposed, and Donald had disappeared for a time to return in his natural garments, he had an unlimited choice of partners, every girl being in a coming-on disposition towards one who so thoroughly understood the poetry of motion as he.
All the town crowded to the Walk, such a delightful idea of a ballroom never having occurred to the inhabitants before.
The Fiddler of Dooney W.B. Yeats
When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.
I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.
When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love to fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:
And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like a wave of the sea.
Pack Monday Fair Sherborne, post WW2 John Bowles remembers
Pack Monday was a very big part of tradition and could not be missed. Hard as it may seem it was the only day of the year when some left their village. There was a Fun Fair. A livestock and a horse market – and stalls. The most entertaining were known as ‘Cheap Jacks’, large lorries like removal vans but the whole side lifted up to reveal a real Aladdin’s Cave of goods. Crockery, bed linen, fabrics, kitchen ware etc. The stall holders, shouting spiel and conducting auctions were very clever and entertaining.
Money was tight after the war; somethings were still on ration. Pack Monday was a chance to go and get a bargain. Though you do wonder whether if the day after, they still thought they had a bargain. (Pack Monday Fair was originally called the Michaelmas Fair.)
Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware
Auctioneer. The Mayor of Casterbridge Fair Thomas Hardy
Auctioneer Now this is the last lot—now who’ll take the last lot for a song? Shall I say forty shillings? ’Tis a very promising broodmare, a trifle over five years old, and nothing the matter with the hoss at all, except that she’s a little holler in the back and had her left eye knocked out by the kick of another, her own sister, coming along the road.
There Was an Old Galtee Farmer Traditional song
Oh there was an old Galtee farmer and he had an old Galtee mare
He brought her to Enniscorthy boys to sell her at the fair
Said the son all to the father “I’ll do the best I can
The price of her is twenty guineas but look I’ll take one pound”
Up comes a Dublin buyer for to bid I am inclined
The price of her is twenty guineas but look I’ll give one pound
So quickly then he paid for here before time look around
And he went into a stable and he pulled her in behind
Put a saddle and a bridle and a jockey all on her back
You would swear she was a racer after coming off the track
Says the son all to the father “There’s a mare for sale close by
She looks so bright and handsome and enticing to my eye”
She looks so bright and handsome and the jockey turned around
Said the price of her is fifty guineas but look I’ll take five pounds
Says the son all to the father now be quick and make up your mind
The price of her is fifty guineas but look he’ll take five pounds
So quickly then they paid for her and away from the fair they went
And as they jogged along the road they were both well content
When they came to the little cottage at the bottom of the lane
Who should run to meet them but the little daughter Jane
“Mamma, mamma here comes the lads, but the mare they did not sell
But they’ve hogged her mane and docked her tail but you’d know her old jog well”
“Oh what did you get that mare clipped for she looks so thin and old
What did you get that mare clipped for she’ll surely catch a cold
I’ll sit down at the table and I’ll let my temper cool
I’ve been married to you these forty years and you’re only a born fool”
Dorchester’s Two Market Days Brian Caddy remembers
During my childhood Wednesday’s market was Fairfield -stalls, cattle and poultry, while Saturday was Charles Street, which was cattle only. I can remember cattle being driven down South Walks.
Saturday Market Charlotte Mew
Bury your heart in some deep green hollow
Or hide it up in a kind old tree;
Better still, give it the swallow
When she goes over the sea.
In Saturday’s Market there’s eggs a ’plenty
And dead-alive ducks with their legs tied down,
Grey old gaffers and boys of twenty—
Girls and the women of the town—
Pitchers and sugar-sticks, ribbons and laces,
Poises and whips and dicky-birds’ seed,
Silver pieces and smiling faces,
In Saturday Market they’ve all they need.
What were you showing in Saturday Market
That set it grinning from end to end
Girls and gaffers and boys of twenty—?
Cover it close with your shawl, my friend—
Hasten you home with the laugh behind you,
Over the down—, out of sight,
Fasten your door, though no one will find you,
No one will look on a Market night.
See, you, the shawl is wet, take out from under
The red dead thing—. In the white of the moon
On the flags does it stir again? Well, and no wonder!
Best make an end of it; bury it soon.
If there is blood on the hearth who’ll know it?
Or blood on the stairs,
When a murder is over and done why show it?
In Saturday Market nobody cares.
Then lie you straight on your bed for a short, short weeping
And still, for a long, long rest,
There’s never a one in the town so sure of sleeping
As you, in the house on the down with a hole in your breast.
Think no more of the swallow,
Forget, you, the sea,
Never again remember the deep green hollow
Or the top of the kind old tree!
Charlotte Mew was a poet whose work Hardy much admired. He was firm in his opinion that “She was far and away the best living poet”
On Hardy’s death a copy of her poem ‘Fin de Fête,’ written In Hardy’s own hand was found amongst his papers.
Blue Vinney Cheese – From Bound to the Soil, Barbara Kerr (1). My Story Leonard Studley d.o.b. 1909 (2) (2) and recent folk tradition (3).
Readers present as if in a queue at Market, discussing what to look for when buying Blue Vinney.
Reader1 Some hold Blue Vinney cheese can only be made satisfactorily in dairies with old thick walls and even a whiff of tobacco smoke or scent near the cheeses will spoil the purity of the taste (1)
Reader 2 The only true secret of making any cheese, is absolute cleanliness. (1)
Reader3 I was always told ‘It’s a real Dorset delicacy that requires a dirty dairy and unhygienic conditions to produce the characteristic blue veins.’ (2)
Reader 2 That’s an Old Wives Tale – absolute cleanliness is what l you want.
Reader 1 And unpasteurized milk. That’s why it got banned. Still I see it creeping back.
Reader 3 You could always buy traditional Blue Vinney! – if you knew who to ask. Standing at a particular cross roads at a pre-arranged time, waiting for the proper cheese to arrive made it all quite exciting I can tell you. (3) Here! Shift up, or we’ll lose our place in the queue.
George Meredith Novelist poet & reader for publisher Chapman & Hall, who told Hardy ‘The Poor Man and the Lady’ was too biter a satire, and advised him on his future novel writing.
July George Meredith
Blue July, bright July,
Month of storms and gorgeous blue;
Violet lightnings o’er thy sky,
Heavy falls of drenching dew;
Summer crown! o’er glen and glade
Shrinking hyacinths in their shade;
I welcome thee with all thy pride,
I love thee like an Eastern bride.
Though all the singing days are done
As in those climes that clasp the sun;
Though the cuckoo in his throat no
Leaves to the dove his last twin note;
Come to me with thy lustrous eye,
Come with all thy shining blooms,
Thy rich red rose and rolling glooms.
Though the cuckoo doth but sing ‘cuk, cuk,’
And the dove alone doth coo;
Though the cushat spins her coo-r-roo, r-r-roo –
To the cuckoo’s halting ‘cuk.’
Sweet July, warm July!
Month when mosses near the stream,
Soft green mosses thick and shy,
Are a rapture and a dream.
Summer Queen! whose foot the fern
Fades beneath while chestnuts burn;
I welcome thee with thy fierce love,
Gloom below and gleam above.
Though all the forest trees hang dumb,
With dense leafiness o’ercome;
Though the nightingale and thrush,
Pipe not from the bough or bush;
Come to me with thy lustrous eye,
The raptures of thy face unfold,
And welcome in thy robes of gold!
Tho’ the nightingale broods—’sweet-chuck-sweet’ –
And the ouzel flutes so chill,
Tho’ the throstle gives but one shrilly trill
To the nightingale’s ‘sweet-sweet.’
The Filly Loo at Ashmore Tim Laycock
The Filly Loo in its present form really dates from 1950’s, when the celebration of Midsummer was devised by Peter Swann and members of the Ashmore Folk Dance Group. It’s an amalgam of ritual customs from all over the place- there’s a green man figure, that is woken up from his winter sleep by a group of dancing maidens, communal ceilidh, including the Dorset Four Hand Reel, and Morris dancing in the village street alongside and sometimes around the pond with Angela Laycock calling the dances
The finale is a version of the famous Horn Dance It may have earlier origins- apparently when the Ashmore Pond dried up, which it does every 20 years or so, the farmers would remove all the accumulated mud to put on their fields, and in exchange bring clay to re-puddle the dew pond; and the locals would bake cakes and feast around the pond. But it’s the highest pond in Dorset, so may well have been venerated in earlier times.
Return of the Native chapter 4 Thomas Hardy
Eustacia is led on an Adventure, there’s a paragraph which wonderfully begins ‘For mummers and mumming Eustacia had the greatest contempt.’
Hardy notes ‘ A traditional pastime is to be distinguished from a mere revival in no more striking feature than in this, that while the revival is all excitement and fervour, the survival is carried on with a stolidity and absence of stir which sets one wondering why a thing that is done so perfunctorily should be kept up at all…..’
We end with Tavistock Goosey Fair and an invitation to join in the chorus.
Tavistock Goosey Fair C. John Trythall
‘Tis just a month come Friday next, Bill Champerdown and me
Well us traipsed across old Darty Moor, the Goosey Fair to see.
And us made ourselves quite fiddy, us greased and oiled our hair.
Then off us goes in our Sunday clothes behind old Bill’s grey mare.
Us smelled the sage and onion half a mile from Whitchurch Down,
And didn’t us have a blow-out when us come into the town.
And there us met Ned Hannerford, Jan Steer and Micky Square,
And it seemed to we, all Devon must be at Tavistock Goosey Fair.
Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And it’s Oh, and where be a-gwain?
And what be you a doin’-of there?
Heave down your prong and stamp along
To Tavistock Goosey Fair
Us went to see the horses and the heifers and the ewes,
Us went on all them roundabouts and into all the shows.
And then it started raining, and a-blowin’ to our face,
So off us goes up to the Rose to have a dish of tea.
And there us had a sing-song and the folks kept droppin’ in
And what with them what knowed us, well us had a drop of gin
And what with one and t’other, us didn’t seem to care
Whether us was to Bellever Tor, or Tavistock Goosey Fair.
‘T’were rainin’ streams and dark as pitch when us trotted home that night
And when us got past Merrivale Bridge the mare, her took a fright.
Well says I to Bill, “Be careful, you’ll have us in them drains.”
Says Bill to me, “Oh blow it!”, says he, “Why haven’t you got the reins?”
Just then the mare ran slap against a whackin’ great big stone;
Her kicked the trap to flibbets and her trotted off alone.
And when us come to reckonin’ t’weren’t no good standin’ there:
So us had to traipse home thirteen mile from Tavistock Goosey Fair.