Tyne Of Harrow

I am a common man by birth, my name is Tyne of Harrow
I come of poor but honest folk nigh to the hills of Yarrow
Was for getting of a maid with child, to England I came over
I left my parents and became a wild and daring rover

And straight to London I did go where I became a soldier
Resolved to fight Britannia's foes; no champion could be bolder
They sailed me to a foreign land where cannon loud did rattle
And believe me lads, I do not boast, how I behaved in battle

For many's the battle I was in, in Holland and French Flanders
I always fought with courage keen, led on by brave commanders
But a cruel ensign, he called me out and I was flogged and carted
Cruel the usage they gave me, and so I soon deserted

And straight for England I set sail as fast as wind could heave me
Resolved that of my liberty no man should e'er relieve me
I slept by night in auburn fields, by all old friends forsaken
And dared not walk the roads by day for fear I should be taken

But being of a courage keen and likewise able bodied
I robbed Lord Lowndes on the King's highway with my pistols heavy loaded
I clapped my pistols to his breast which caused him for to quiver
And five hundred pound in ready gold to me he did deliver

With part of my new store of gold I bought a famous gelding
That could jump over a five-bar gate; I bought it from Ned Fielding
Lord Arkinstone in his fine coach I robbed at Covent Garden
And two hours later the same night I robbed the Earl of Warren

And one night by Turnham Green I robbed a revenue collector
And what I took from him I gave to a widow to protect her
For I always robbed the rich and great, to rob the poor, I scorn it
But now they leave me to my fate, in iron chains adorned

For it's straight to Newgate I am bound and by the laws indicted
For to hang on Tyburn tree's my fate, of which I'm much affrighted
Farewell, my friends and countrymen, my native hills of Yarrow
Kind providence will test the soul of Alan Tyne of Harrow

Trad, arr. T Ashworth

Work Life Out To Keep Life In

Oh the working man as you can see
That is what he was born to be
Married to the working wife
That is what she'll be all her life
Never lived beyond their means
Nor sought assistance from their friends
Yet day and night through thick and thin
They work life out just to keep life in

No matter friends what else befalls
The poor folk they must work or fall
Through frost and snow through sleet and wind
They work life out just to keep life in

Do you see the women who make the gowns
For those in other parts of town
It's a site most sorrowful to see
And I'm sure with me you will agree:
Meagre is our daily pay
To feed and clad a family with
She's overworked, she's tired and thin
She works life out just to keep life in

Oh mischief mine, where do you roam?
When reason called you weren't at home
If you take cheese from off the rat
Is he then free to hunt the cat?
If free from union's free from dues
Are you free from choice or free to choose?
Or free as any bird blown by the wind
To work life out just to keep life in

Trad with additional words by Martin Carthy, arr. T Ashworth

Crispin's Day

The axle tree still bedded in the mire
This trilling in the blood
The call comes down the wire: “it’s time to leave”
Did you hear what the thunder said?
Collect your things, get out of here
The road’s already pulling at your feet
Over-shoulder glances
Up the path of second chances
And good intentions rusty with neglect
My overcoat is soaking
As the morning comes in smoking
Stubbing out a final cigarette

And time will tell the fortunate ones
Who crawl through the mud to a day in the sun

First light we’ll be moving
Rushing headlong to the future
Unreal city lost beyond the fog of war
A spectre in the distance
As we swing the focus inward
Each man takes the moment squarely on the jaw
A timebomb of reprisals
The only sign of our arrival
A scattering of ashes on the floor
And a hangover that passes
Like the sun through broken glasses
Wondering what the hell has all of this been for

Inertia spent and stalling
While the bloody rain keeps falling
Failing with a stutter and a start
A tally no-one counted
New-cut valleys turn to mountains
And Crispin’s day it came and went unmarked
No knight in shining armour
But the builder and the farmer
And the boy behind the counter in a shop
A list read out in silence
Since the milk of human kindness
Has run out to the final, bitter drop

An hour since dawn has broken
And not a man has spoken
The silence is no more than you’d expect
A cortege or an escort
And not a face looks distraught
Cos the truth is: we’ve all done things we regret
A lost game at the outset
The conclusion of the inquest:
That civil blood makes civil hands unclean
But the mother holds the photo
Of a boy not coming home
And all she has is all that might have been

And time will tell the fortunate ones
Who crawl through the mud to a day in the sun
When the battle’s lost and won
Who’ll crawl through the mud to a day in the sun?

© T Ashworth 2017

Hollow

When I was a young man
I blamed my tools
And bought and sold from day to day
So freely
When I was a young man
I blamed my tools
And bought and sold from day to day
So free

And the dreams I taught my sons to dream
They were smaller than I meant
The horizon’s so much nearer when
You kneel to pay the rent

When I was a young man
I drew straight lines
And crossed the border day to day
So freely
When I was a young man
I drew straight lines
And crossed the border day to day
So free

And the dreams I taught my sons to dream
Were a compromise at best
The horizon’s so much nearer when
You kneel to pay the rent

When I was a young man
I paid no mind
And played the numbers day to day
So freely
When I was a young man
I paid no mind
And played the numbers day to day
So free

And the dreams I taught my sons to dream
They were smaller than I meant
The horizon’s so much nearer when
You kneel to pay the rent
And the dreams I taught my sons to dream
Were the means but not the end
The horizon’s so much nearer when
You kneel to pay the rent

© T Ashworth 2018

Lord Bateman

Lord Bateman was a noble lord
A noble lord of high degree
He put himself on board a ship
Some foreign country he would go see
He sailed East and he sailed West
Sailed in to proud Turkey
But he was taken and put in prison
Until his life grew quite weary
In their prisons there grew a tree
Grew it stout and grew it strong
And he was chained up all about the middle
Until his life it was almost gone
The turnkey had one only daughter
A fairer a lady you ne’er did see
She shed her tear and she set her mind
She swore Lord Bateman she would go see

“Do you have land and do you have living
Does Northumberland belong to thee?
What would you give to a brave young lady
If out of prison she set you free?”
“I have land, land and I have living
Half Northumberland belongs to me
I'd give it all to a brave young lady
If out of prison she would set me”
She stole the key from her father’s pillow
Poured Lord Bateman her father’s wine
Every health they drank together
“Oh I wish Lord Bateman you were mine”
She's took him down to her father's harbour
Found for him the ship of fame
“Farewell, farewell, farewell Lord Bateman
I'm sure I'll never see your face again”

Seven long years were long and past
From her heart she had not been free
She packed up all of her finest clothing
Swore Lord Bateman she would go see
When she came to London city
Cried Lord Bateman through the town
Every stranger that did pass by her
Led her on to Northumberland
“Is this called Lord Bateman's castle?
Is his lordship here within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes,” cried the proud young porter
Tell what news I may give to him”
“Go tell him send me a cut of bread
Tell him send me a cup of wine
And to remember the brave young lady
Who did release him when he was confined”

Away, away tore the proud young porter
Away, away, and away went he
He cried, “Lord Bateman, my lord and master
I'm sure Sophia has crossed the sea”
“She tells you send her a cut of bread
Tells you send her a cup of wine
And to remember the brave young lady
Who did release you when you were confined”
Lord Bateman then in silence fell
From his heart he had not been free
“I'll give you all my father's stable
If my Sophia has crossed the sea”
Bateman then too his true love flew
From his heart he had not been free
And never was there a love so constant
As brave Sophia who crossed the sea

Trad, arr T Ashworth

The Crow On The Cradle

The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn
Now is the time for a child to be born
He'll laugh at the moon and he'll cry for the sun
And if it’s a boy he’ll carry a gun
Sang the crow on the cradle

And if it should be that this baby's a girl
Never you mind if her hair doesn't curl
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
And a bomber above her wherever she goes
Sang the crow on the cradle

Crow on the cradle, the black and the white
Somebody's baby is born for a fight
Crow on the cradle, the white and the black
Somebody's baby is not coming back
Sang the crow on the cradle

Your mother and father, they'll sweat and they'll save
To buy you a coffin and dig you a grave
Hushabye little one, never you weep
We've got a toy that will put you to sleep
Sang the crow on the cradle

Bring me a gun and I'll shoot that bird dead
That's what your mother and father have said
Crow on the cradle, what shall we do
This is the thing that I’ll leave up to you
Sang the crow on the cradle

Sydney B Carter

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture

I was hand weaver, skilled in my trade
Til revolution took my hands away
Steam power came, and the stocking frame
A mill to grind away an honest trade
No loom could weave a crust of bread to eat
So I cast in the shoes from off my feet

Can’t push the genie back inside
Or wish us all back to the future
Can’t resurrect what’s up and died
Now everybody’s gone to the rapture

The press gang put me in the white and blue
I left my family and debts accrued
And a soldier of the crown I served
Ships sailed me half the way across the earth
Spilled blood for country and a distant king
Bringing empire with a sabre swing

Come saddle up your charger bold
Your high horse sent to pasture
There’s no time left for days of old
Now everybody’s gone to the rapture

Worked in the darkness, low down in the seam
Pick and drill to fee this English dream
Time dragged the costs up, now the bill’s unpaid
I can’t climb out the pit my father made
Coal and sweat and tar, all dust to dust
Tools set down for good and left to rust

Oh tell me where the work has gone
No more to manufacture
Can’t fuel the fires we tend at home
Now everybody’s gone to the rapture

© T Ashworth 2016

The City & The Tower

Tie you down
In a bind of days gone by and needful things
Cage the bird but still you have to clip its wings
You can’t change the tune it sings
Trial by fire
Becomes the day to day, a routine test
As if the sentence meted out was said in jest
Til we all are dispossessed

Belief comes cheap
A rumour carried on the air
A waking sleep
For all in love and war is fair
A staged retreat
Letting bridges burn

Duty binds
Til orphaned sense becomes a dying breed
All meaning lost between the moving parts of speech
Traps the tongue behind the teeth
These narrow lines
With Beeching cuts made silent, over time
Til protocol makes virtue into crime
Tears the signal from the sign

Belief runs deep
Running through the cracks between
Awake and sleep
A rag to wipe the canvas clean
A staged retreat
Letting bridges burn

Salt the earth
Dam the river
Poison the well
Bar the gates
Pull up the ladder
Sound the horn and ring the bell

Salt the earth
Dam the river
March us into hell
We’ll take the scars
And we’ll remember
We were there, when Babel fell


© T Ashworth 2018

John Barleycorn

There were three men came out the West
Their fortune for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn should die
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in
Threw clods upon his head
And these made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn was dead

They let him lie for a very long time
Til rain from heaven did fall
Then little sir John raised up his head
And he soon amazed them all
They let him lie until the long midsummer
When he looked both pale and wan
Then little sir John grew a long, long beard
And so became a man

They hired men with scythes so sharp
To cut him off, down by the knee
They rolled and tied him around the waist
Served him most barbarously
They hired men with sharp pitchforks
To pierce him to the heart
But the loader, he served him worst than that,
For he bound him to the cart

They rolled him around and around the field
Til they came into a barn
And there they made a solemn mow
Of poor John Barleycorn
They hired men with crab tree sticks
To cut him skin from bone
But the miller, he served him worst than that,
For he ground him between two stones

Here’s little sir John in a nut brown bowl
And brandy in a glass
But little sir John in the nut brown bowl
Proved the stronger man at last
For the hunter, he can’t hunt the fox
Nor loudly blow his horn
And the tinker he can’t mend his kettles or pots
Without a little bit of John Barleycorn


Trad, arr T Ashworth

The Snow It Melts The Soonest

Oh the snow it melts the soonest
When the winds begin to sing
And the corn it ripens fastest
When the frost is setting in
When a young man tells me that
My face he’ll soon forget
Before we part, I’ll tell him now:
He’ll be fain to follow yet

Oh the snow it melts the soonest
When the winds begin to sing
And the swallow skims without a thought
As long as it is spring
But when spring goes and winter blows
My love, then you’ll be fain
For all your pride to follow me
Were it cross the stormy main

Oh the snow it melts the soonest
When the winds begin to sing
And the bee that flew when summer shone
In winter, he won’t sing
And all the flowers in all the land
So brightly there they’ll be
For the snow it melts the soonest
When my true love’s for me

So never say me farewell here
No farewell I’ll receive
You can see me to the stile
Where you’ll kiss and take your leave
And I’ll wait here til the woodcock crows
And the marten takes its leave
For the snow it melts the soonest
When the winds begin to sing

Trad, arr T Ashworth

Crossing The Water

I learned to sleep alone, my back to the wall
To murmur there unheard against the rise and the fall
A shadow on the breath, all these fits and starts
A ghost in the machine - you made a man with all moving parts
Symptoms undiagnosed, a body under stress
Evidence new disclosed and a case that I make under duress
I worry that night will fall before I find my way home

Bombs falling in the night turned my ribs to coal
Dreams of balances, feather for a soul
You read me like a book and I start to think
That my skin’s turned to paper and my blood to ink
Words run down the page, make the margins black
A weight of your shoulders and a metaphor that’s breaking my back
I worry that night will fall and all that I’ve built will be gone

Go find a hill before the flood comes
You show your fear, I’ll show you dust
What little I can hold in these arms
Is all that I will carry with me

I learned to sleep alone, my back to the wall
To murmur there unheard against the rise and the fall
Now the wind’s picking up - a storm in my throat
If no man is an island then keep me afloat
And tie me to the mast, I’ll pilot these straits
I hope it’s true what you said: that they also serve who stand and wait
I know that the dawn will break and all this will be said and done

© T Ashworth 2018

Derry Gaol

After morning there comes the evening
And after evening another day
And after old love there comes a new love
It is hard to keep those who will not stay
My love he is the finest young man
That ever nature framed or sun shone on
But how to save him, I do not know it
For he is sentenced all to be hung

As he walked out on the streets of Derry
I’m sure he marched out right manfully
Being much more like some commanding officer
Than one to hang upon the gallows tree
But the very first step he put on the gallows
His blooming colour began to fade
And with bitter crying and tender sighing
“Is there no releasement from Derry Gaol?”

Where is my love, she is so long coming
And what detains her so long from me?
Or does she think it some shame or scandal
For to see me hang upon the gallows tree?
Well he looked around and he saw her coming
She was riding faster than the wind
“Stand back, stand back you false prosecutors
For I bear releasement all from the King”
And I made them see they may not hang you
And I'll crown my love, all in a gown of green

Trad, arr T Ashworth

Ratcliffe Highway

As I was a-walking along Ratcliffe Highway
The recruiting party come a-beating the drum
I was listed and attested and before I did know
It's to the king's duty I was forced to go

Well I quickly escaped and I thought myself free
Till my cruel companions informed against me
I was quickly followed after and brought back with speed
In chains I was hung, heavy irons on me

Court martial, court martial, they held against me
And the sentence they gave me was three hundred and three
May the lord have mercy on them for their sad cruelty
For now the king's duty lies heavy on me

So again I escaped and I thought myself free
But my cruel sweetheart informed against me
I was quickly followed after and brought back with speed
In chains I was hung, heavy irons on me

Court martial, court martial I very soon got
And they quickly passed sentence that I should be shot
May the lord have mercy on them for their sad cruelty
For now the king's duty lies heavy on me
Court martial, court martial, they held against me
And the sentence they gave me was three hundred and three
May the lord have mercy on them for their sad cruelty
For now the king's duty lies heavy on me

So if ever you're a-walking all along Ratcliffe Highway
The recruiting party come a-beating the drum
Don't be listed and attested into the king's army
Or else the king's duty lie heavy on thee

Trad, arr T ashworth


Exile (just a note)

Just a note for time is short dear
Hard the work and long the day
And I’m thinking of you Mary
Though I’m many a mile away

Kiss the children for me Mary
Do not let them pine nor grieve
Tell them that I’m working for them
Why our home I have to leave

Building dams, airfields and factories
Shifting concrete by the load
And I’ll be with you in October
When I’m finished on the road

Ewan MacColl


Look To Windward (a carol for the margins)

Delusions of grandeur, a stiff blow to the heart
An old man in a high backed chair
He stares a thousand yards
As crowds flow over bridges
Towards the gates beyond
His hands won’t stop from shaking
This laying out of cards

It’s the fire lit at evening
That burns to dust in the hearth
It’s the mark you trace at our leaving
Says “we will be no part”

Is witness not approval?
A hand pressed on the scale
When all our checks and balances
Turned out to be for sale
When words are crossed on both sides
The pride before the fall
You’re pulling down the scaffold or
You’re building up the wall

It’s the fire lit at evening
That burns to dust in the hearth
It’s the mark you trace at our leaving
Says “we will be no part”
And you cross your chest every morning
For grace to guide your path
It’s the losses you’ll take
For a promise made years ago

The drowned Phoenician sailor
(A laying out of cards)
As if the deck’s not loaded
And every card not marked

It’s the fire lit at evening
That burns to dust in the hearth
It’s the mark you trace at our leaving
Says “we will be no part”
And you cross your chest every morning
For grace to guide your path
This carol for the margins:
“We will be no part”

© T Ashworth 2018


Poverty Knock

Up every morning at five,
It’s a wonder that we’re still alive
Tired and yawning, in the cold morning
And back to the dreary old drive
Oh dear, we're going to be late
The gaffer is stood at the gate
We're out of pocket, our wages he'll dock it
We'll have to buy grub on the slate

And it’s poverty, poverty knock
My loom it is singing all day
Poverty, poverty knock
The gaffer’s too skinny to pay us
Poverty, poverty knock
With always one eye on the clock
And I know I can guttle
When I hear my shuttle go
Poverty, poverty knock

Oh how my poor heart it sings
I should have woven three strings
The threads they keep breaking, my poor heart is aching
Oh god, how I wish I had wings
Sometimes a shuttle flies out
And gives some poor woman a clout
There she lies bleeding but nobody's heading
Will nobody carry her out?

The tuner should see to my loom
But he'd rather sit on his bum
He's far too busy a-courting our Lizzie
I just can't up get him to come
And Lizzie’s so easily led
I reckon he takes her to bed
She always skinny, now look at her pinny:
It’s just about time they was wed

Trad, arr T Ashworth


High Germany

Oh Polly love, oh Polly
The rout has now begun
And we must go a-marching
To the beating of the drum
Go dress yourself all in your best and
Come along with me
I’ll take you to the war, my love, in high Germany

Oh Willy love, oh Willy
Come listen what I say:
My feet they are so tender
I cannot march away
And besides my dearest Willy
I am with child by thee
Not fitted for the war, my love, in high Germany

I’ll buy for you a horse, my love
And on it you shall ride
And all of my delight will be
To ride there by your side
We’ll stop at every ale-house
And drink when we are dry
Be true to one another and get married, by and by

Oh cursed be the cruel wars
That ever they may rise
And out of merry England
Press many men like mine
They took my true love from me
Likewise my brothers three
Sent them to the way, my love, in high Germany

My friends I do not value
Nor foes I do not fear
Since my love has left me
I wander far and near
And when my baby it is born
And smiling on my knee
I’ll think of lovely Willy, in high Germany


Trad, arr T Ashworth

Pathfinding

Broken songs in broken tongues
The battle line collapsed
Broken trust in broken hands
And fixes that won’t last

A burden laid at tired feet,
The losses to survey:
A prelude to one more retreat
A muffled cry for aid
It’s only one more step along the way

Black-legs come and go like trains
From cradle to the grave
A victory for the company man:
Another fraction saved

A contract for an endless debt
To underwrite the sale
Broadsheets passed out, ink still wet
With backs against the rail
It’s only one more step along the way

Mark the ledger, sign your name
Waive your right to ask:
Who cut the ties that used to bind
The master to the task?

But if there’s still a line to hold
It’s power to your hand
To shake the tree until the fruit
Falls heavy to the land
It’s only one more step along the way

© T Ashworth 2018