Folk Song to Folk Tale

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  • Folk Song to Folk TaleAuthor(s): Edward M. WilsonSource: Folklore, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Jun., 1937), pp. 215-217Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises, Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 23:29

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  • Collectanea 215

    Nandzo kanha."

    Se tihetisa yiljwani negge

    tijgwana, tihofa kule.

    Asala nitiljho kuhela,

    tisusa mavoko hijkwawu, tihofa kule. Tieljgeta kambe tisusa tijyo, fikofana fifa.

    Lweyi wamufana afika aya gwela vavasati legaku ndzi dlayile ikofana. Va ta hisa. A suka lweyi mufana afamba

    kaya. Aya teka makwavu

    waljhwanyana, avuya naye, a ta tsama kona. A teka

    vavasati, atsama navo, avalondzovota.

    I will tear your buttocks while I kill you." So then they finish another

    leg, the dogs do, they throw it far.

    She remains with her tooth

    only. They take off all [i.e. both] arms, they throw far. They do it again; they take out her

    tooth; the old woman dies. That Mr. Boy comes down; he goes to tell the women that " I have killed the old

    woman." They burn [her]. He starts off, that boy, he

    goes home. He takes his

    sister-girl, he returns with

    her, she will remain there. He takes the women, he lives with them and takes care of them.


    An old woman with a long tooth is sometimes symbolical of a tribe possessing some dreaded weapon.

    (To be continued)

    FOLK SONG TO FOLK TALE IN September 1936, I took down the following tale from Richard

    Harrison, native of Crosthwaite, Westmorland, aged sixteen; he had heard it some years ago from one of his school-mates.

    There was an Englishman, Irishman and a Scotchman decided to go hunting one day together. So they chose a nice fine

    morning one morning, taking with them their guns and a bit o'

    grub, and they set off. They'd had quite a nice bit of sport in the early morning, frapping at anything that got up or ran around or whatever it did, till they felt very hungry, and one of 'em said: " Eh ! Let's have our meal, lads. Then we'll be

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  • 216 Collectanea

    fit to travel again." So they spied a hay-stack in the distance and they decided they'd go and sit under that for their meal. T' Englishman said : " By ! it's a fine hay-stack is that, lads." And t' Scotchman said: " Nay, nay, nay, tha's wrang, lad." And Perpatsy said: " It's a Roman Catholic chu'ch, lads, but t' tower's blahn away."

    So they set off thinking they'd find another place to have their dinner at, when all of a sudden t' Englishman said: " Hey ! look lads ! What a girt urchin there is 'ere ! " And t' Scotchman said : " Nay, nay, lad, tha's wrang." And Perpatsy spluttered out: " What ! it's a pin-cushion lads, wi' aw t' pins stuck in wrang way."

    Well, they passed away on till they came to a nice big hill where they could view the scenery all the time that they were

    eating (and where) they decided they'd have their lunch. After

    they'd all got perked, t' Englishman said : " 0 heck lads ! We

    ,can't sit 'ere. Look at this girt peltin' heap o' rabbit droppin's."

    T' Scotchman jumped up and looked and said: " 0 nay, nay, tha's wrang, lad." Perpatsy darted round and said: " Ee ! I hev it lads. It's bin a black-currant tart wi' t' pastry all itten .away ! "

    This tale obviously derives from the well-known folk song, The Three Huntsmen, which may be found in Baring Gould's and Cecil Sharp's English Folk Songs for Schools (Novellos). I quote the lines which have most resemblance to my tale:

    There were three jovial Welshmen, As I have heard men say,

    And they would go a-hunting, boys, Upon Saint David's day. ...

    One said it surely was a ship, The second he said, Nay;

    The third declared it was a house With the chimney blown away ....

    One said it was a hedgehog, The second he said, Nay;

    The third it was a pin-cushion, The pins stuck in wrong way ....

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  • Collectanea 217

    Further enquires may possibly reveal the presence of the old song in the district; the rhymes in my version make it seem probable that the tale has not been a tale very long. Never- theless its transformation is a very interesting one; I know of no other case in England where this has happened. There may well be other cases, however, and the recording of this one now will have served a useful purpose if it brings others to light.



    Eolk-Lore vol. xlvii p. 366. The jingle heard by Mr. Paul G. Brewster in Southern Indiana as recited to the splash of a churn -when butter was slow in " coming " was known in mediaeval Europe in a slightly different form. Quoted in Satan's Invisible World (p. 84), it runs :

    Come, butter, come ; Come, butter, come ; Peter stands at the gate Waiting for a buttered cake.

    Come, butter, come ! M. MACLEOD BANKS


    THE Council has great pleasure in announcing the im- portant gift to the Society by Miss Estella Canziani of two pictures and a number of sketches showing the present-day costumes of London Costers. One, showing a street scene, was exhibited by Miss Canziani at the Royal Academy in 1936 and is probably known to many members. The other is of part of the service at the Costers' Harvest Thanks- giving at Southwark. The pictures have been lent by the Society to the London Museum, where they will shortly be exhibited. A fuller description of the pictures will be published later.

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    Article Contentsp. 215p. 216p. 217

    Issue Table of ContentsFolklore, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Jun., 1937), pp. 113-224Front MatterMinutes of Meetings [pp. 113-114]Labyrinth Ritual in South India: Threshold and Tattoo Designs [pp. 115-182]The Latvians in Their Folk Songs [pp. 183-186]CollectaneaDieri Legends, Part I [pp. 187-206]Folk-Stories of Gazaland, Portuguese East Africa, Part I [pp. 206-215]Folk Song to Folk Tale [pp. 215-217]Butter Charm [p. 217]

    NotesPictures of London Life [p. 217]

    CorrespondenceJackie Kent [pp. 218-219]Mules and Men [pp. 219-221]Bell Tune [p. 222]

    ReviewReview: untitled [pp. 222-223]Short Bibliographical Notices [p. 224]

    Back Matter