I was singing this traditional song in all innocence at a folk club in the 70s when in came a group of young people who sat down in the back row. They got up and left at the end of the song, which was not the usual reaction to my singing, and when my set was over I asked the club organiser who they were. “Oh,” he said, “just some French students here for the week.” I was sorry not to have done better for international relations than sing them a song of an episode that took place 600 years ago, but which obviously still rankled.
The superb painting of Henry V is by SallyGypsyPunk at DeviantArt.
This will be my last song for a week or so as I shall be away exploring the northern reaches of Britain’s Isle. But there are hundreds of other songs from my collection to listen to. Have a look at the menus above and click on a song title.
Haymaking was a really important time in the country calendar at which everyone who was able might help, especially before mechanisation. It meant feed for the livestock for the year to come. Continuing wet weather could ruin the hay, the farmer and all the workers and their families. A good long summer might yield two crops of hay bringing a degree of prosperity and great celebration.
Many of the old photos show the labourers with their bottles of cider, ale or small beer to help see them through the long hard day from dawn to dusk. The three women were probably land girls in the second world war. There are numerous traditional songs about harvest time and they’re always on the hopeful, celebratory side!
The song is from the album Sounds & Sweet Airs. Thank you to Steve Wright for the Appletreewick photos with the two girls and Ron White for the Oxfordshire photo at the end. I know the song concerns haymaking but the pictures of the straw fields are irresistible.