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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Ian HP Tune Req: Poor Old Horse (Mummer's Song) (15) Lyr Add: POOR OLD HORSE (MUMMERS' SONG) 27 Mar 99


Could anyone tell me where I could find the tune to the below, either recorded or written? I found the words in Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England, ed. Robert Bell, though there is no tune there. It is not the shanty made popular by the Albion Band nor the song reconstructed by Martin Carthy. It is different from an Irish version of the song, so I am going on the assumption that the tune is different.


Ballad: THE MUMMERS' SONG; OR, THE POOR OLD HORSE

As sung by the Mummers in the Neighbourhood of Richmond, Yorkshire, at the merrie time of Christmas.

[THE rustic actor who sings the following song is dressed as an old horse, and at the end of every verse the jaws are snapped in chorus. It is a very old composition, and is now printed for the first time. The 'old horse' is, probably, of Scandinavian origin, - a reminiscence of Odin's Sleipnor.]


YOU gentlemen and sportsmen,
And men of courage bold,
All you that's got a good horse,
Take care of him when he is old;
Then put him in your stable,
And keep him there so warm;
Give him good corn and hay,
Pray let him take no harm.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

Once I had my clothing
Of linsey-woolsey fine,
My tail and mane of length,
And my body it did shine;
But now I'm growing old,
And my nature does decay,
My master frowns upon me,
These words I heard him say, -
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

These pretty little shoulders,
That once were plump and round,
They are decayed and rotten, -
I'm afraid they are not sound.
Likewise these little nimble legs,
That have run many miles,
Over hedges, over ditches,
Over valleys, gates, and stiles.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

I used to be kept
On the best corn and hay
That in fields could be grown,
Or in any meadows gay;
But now, alas! it's not so, -
There's no such food at all!
I'm forced to nip the short grass
That grows beneath your wall.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

I used to be kept up
All in a stable warm,
To keep my tender body
From any cold or harm;
But now I'm turned out
In the open fields to go,
To face all kinds of weather,
The wind, cold, frost, and snow.
Poor old horse! poor old horse!

My hide unto the huntsman
So freely I would give,
My body to the hounds,
For I'd rather die than live:
So shoot him, whip him, strip him,
To the huntsman let him go;
For he's neither fit to ride upon,
Nor in any team to draw.
Poor old horse! you must die!


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