> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Reynardine
> Shirley Collins > Songs > Reynardine
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Reynardine
> Anne Briggs > Songs > Reynardine
> Sandy Denny > Songs > Reynardine
> June Tabor > Songs > Reynardine

Reynardine

[ Roud 397 ; Laws P15 ; Ballad Index LP15 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang this old ballad unaccompanied in 1956 on his Tradition Records LP The Foggy Dew and Other Traditional English Love Songs and, with quite different verses, in 1966 on his album First Person. The latter track was re-released e.g. on the Fellside CD Classic A.L. Lloyd. A.L. Lloyd commented in the First Person sleeve notes:

A vulpine name for a crafty hero. Mr Fox is a disquieting figure in folk tales. A girl tosses her glass ball into his garden, and when she goes to retrieve it, he holds her prisoner. One thing she must not do if she is ever to regain her freedom: that is, to look under the bed. But she cannot master her curiosity, and one day when the coast seems clear, she looks under the bed, and there, grinning at her is Mr. Fox. In another tale Mr. Fox is an elegant witty lover with a cupboard full of bones and tubs of blood. The dread uncertainty is whether he is man or animal. Similar unease broods within this song. Some commentators have thought it concerns a love affair between an English lady and an Irish outlaw, and have set its date in Elizabeth's time. Others believe the story is older and consider Reynardine, the “little fox”, to be a supernatural, lycanthropic lover. It was a favourite ballad in both Ireland and England in the nineteenth century. Bebbington of Manchester and Such of London were among several publishers who issued broadsides of the song, and it is widely scattered in North America from Arkansas to Nova Scotia. Mr Gale Huntington found a version scribbled in the back of the logbook of the New Bedford whaler Sharon in 1845. The (very explicitly) Mixolydian tune I use is but one of several attached to the song.

Shirley Collins sang just four verses of Reynardine in 1964 on her and Davy Graham's album Folk Roots, New Routes; this track was later included on the Topic 4CD anthology The Acoustic Folk Box. She also sang it in two years later on the privately pressed album Folk Scene.

Martin Carthy sang a version very similar to Lloyd's (with the same tune but slightly different words) on his 1969 album with Dave Swarbrick, Prince Heathen. Carthy commented in the record's sleeve notes:

To the country person everything around him has its place in the pattern of nature but the fox seems the odd man out. Among other things it seems that he kills for no reason, and although this has been explained by diligent study, at one time it led to people attributing a very sinister aspect to him. He was believed to have magical powers, and there are many stories of foxes appearing as people and threatening them in some evil way (Little Red Riding Hood is one related). The same theme in a very debased form was made famous by Lon Chaney Jr's many appearances as the Werewolf on film.

Fairport Convention recorded Reynardine on October 22, 1969 for their seminal album Liege and Lief. This track was included in 2004 on the 5CD Fledg'ling Sandy Denny anthology A Boxful of Treasures. An earlier live version on September 23, 1969 in in Studio 4, Maida Vale, for the Top Gear / John Peel radio show was broadcast on September 27, 1969 with a repeat on December 13, 1969. This track can be found on From Past Archives, on the Island CD re-release of Heyday and on Ashley Hutchings' CD 5 from the Guv'nor series. A Fairport Convention live recording from Cropredy 1983 was released on the cassette The Boot - 1983 Fairport Reunion.

Anne Briggs recorded Reynardine in 1971 for her first solo album Anne Briggs; this was reissued on her Fellside and Topic compilation CDs, Classic Anne Briggs and A Collection, and included in the Topic compilations English and Scottish Folk Ballads and English Originals. A.L. Lloyd wrote in the original album's sleeve notes:

Foxy name, foxy hero. Perhaps, he was an Irish outlaw. The song was widespread in Ireland and in England too, and its common appearance on broadsides, year after year, helped to keep it alive. Words and tune of this version are adapted by me from an Irish original. Some think the song concerns a werewolf. I doubt it.

June Tabor sang Reynardine unaccompanied on her 1976 album, Airs and Graces. She commented in the sleeve notes:

Text a collection of English and Irish sets, tune from Sussex. For me the romance and mystery outweigh the horror of the werewolf implication—Errol Flynn rather than Lon Charney.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Reynardine on their Folk-Legacy album Dark Ships in the Forest: Ballads of the Supernatural (cassette 1977, CD 1997). Tony Barrand notes in the liner notes:

Our setting of this song, perhaps best known to-the dramatic mixolydian tune collected in Suffolk by A.L. Lloyd and popularized by him, is to the melody given by Stephen Sedley in The Seeds of Love, which Tony heard in a London folk club. Irish in sentiment and almost certainly so in origin, the song conjures visions of the folk tale's Mr. Fox, dismembering the young girls he has seduced away to his forest mansion, a sylvan Bluebeard whose bestial cruelty is matched only by his cunning charms.

Grace Notes sang Reynardine in 1993 on their first album, Down Falls the Day, This track was also included on their anniversary album 20, where Lynda Hardcastle commented:

I remember, many years ago, hearing Sandy Denny sing Reynardine, just her and a piano. Magical. We use the words from Sandy's version.

Coope Boyes & Simpson sang Reynardine on 1998 on their CD Hindsight. Their liner notes comment:

Jim [Boyes] recalls hearing Bert Lloyd giving a lecture on this song where he described Reynardine as a Bluebeard like character and gave a gothic description of what the woman discovered when she finally reached his castle—definitely not for the squeamish.

Maddy Prior sang Reynardine in 2001 on her CD Arthur the King; this song was later included on her anthology Collections: A Very Best of 1995 to 2005.

Jon Boden sang Reynardine as the April 30, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in his blog:

I’m totally in love with this song. We started doing a version on the last Remnant Kings tour with wolf noises from the wax cylinder players. I love the line about his teeth shining bright…

This video shows Jon and The Remnant Kings at the A Folk Song A Day Midsummer Concert at Cecil Sharp House, London, on June 23, 2011:

For other fox songs, compare Reynard the Fox on Martin Carthy's album Out of the Cut, The Foxhunt on the second Brass Monkey recording, See How It Runs, and on some other records, and Fairport Conventions Reynard the Fox on their album Tipplers Tales.

Bryony Holden sang Reynardine in 2013 on her Sandy Denny tribute album Across the Purple Sky.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings Reynardine on First Person

One evening as I rambled among the springing thyme
I overheard a young woman conversing with Reynardine.

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue and her mouth was red as wine.
And he smiled as he looked upon them, did this sly bold Reynardine.

She said, “Young man, be civil and me company forsake.
For to me good opinion I fear you are a rake.”

He said, ”Me dear, I am no rake brought up in Venus' train.
But I'm searching for concealment all from the judge's men.”

Her cherry cheek and ruby lip, they lost their former dye.
And she fell into his arms there all on the mountain high.

They hadn't kissed but once or twice till she come to again.
And modestly she asked him pray tell to me your name.

He says, “If by chance you look for me, by chance you'll not me find.
But I'll be in my castle, enquire for Reynardine.”

Day and night she followed him, his teeth so bright did shine.
And he led her over the mountain, did this sly bold Reynardine.

Shirley Collins sings Reynardine

One evening as I rambled among the leaves so green
I overheard a young woman converse with Reynardine.

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue, her lips as red as wine
And he smiled to gaze upon her did this sly bold Reynardine.

He said, “If by chance you look for me perhaps you'll not me find
For I'll be in my castle enquire for Reynardine.”

Sun and dark, she followed him, his eyes did brightly shine
And he led her over the mountains did this sly bold Reynardine.

Martin Carthy sings Reynardine

One evening as I rambled among the springing thyme,
I overheard a young woman converse with Reynardine.

Her hair was black and her eyes were blue, her lips were red as wine.
And he smiled as he looked upon them, did this sly bold Reynardine.

She says, “Young man, be civil, me company forsake.
Oh for to my good opinion I fear you are a rake.”

“Oh no, I am no rake,” he cries, “brought up in Venus' train,
But I'm searching for concealment all from the judge's men.”

Her cherry cheeks and her ruby lips they lost their former dye,
As she fell into his arms all on the mountain high.

They had not kissed but once or twice when she came to again
And most modestly she asked him oh pray tell to me your name.

“Oh, if by chance you look for me, by chance you'll not me find.
For I'll be in my green castle, enquire for Reynardine.”

Oh, day and night she followed him, his cheeks all bright did shine,
As he led her over the mountain, did this sly bold Reynardine.

Sandy Denny sings Fairport Convention's version of Reynardine

One evening as I rambled among the leaves so green,
I overheard a young woman converse with Reynardine.

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue, her lips as red as wine,
And he smiled to gaze upon her, did that sly, bold Reynardine.

She said, “Kind sir, be civil, my company forsake,
For in my own opinion I fear you are some rake.”

“Oh no,” he said, “no rake am I, brought up in Venus' train,
But I'm seeking for concealment all along the lonesome plain.”

“Your beauty so enticed me, I could not pass it by,
So it's with my gun I'll guard you all on the mountains high.”

“And if by chance you should look for me, perhaps you'll not me find,
For I'll be in my castle, enquire for Reynardine.”

Sun and dark she followed him, his teeth did brightly shine,
And he led her up a-the mountains, did that sly, bold Reynardine.

Anne Briggs sings Reynardine

One evening as I rambled amongst the springing thyme,
I overheard a young woman conversing with Reynardine.

And her hair was black and her eyes were blue, her mouth as red as wine,
And he smiled as he looked upon her, did this sly bold Reynardine.

And she says, “Young man, be civil, my company forsake,
For to my good opinion I fear you are a rake.”

And he said, “My dear, well I am no rake brought up in Venus' train.
But I'm searching for concealment all from the judge's men.”

And her cherry cheeks and her ruby lips they lost their former dye,
And she's fell into his arms there all on the mountain high.

And they hadn't kissed but once or twice till she came to again,
And it's modestly she asked him, “Pray tell to me your name.”

“Well, if by chance you ask for me, perhaps you'll not me find,
I'll be in my green castle, enquire for Reynardine.”

And it's day and night she followed him his, teeth so bright did shine.
And he led her over the mountain, did the sly bold Reynardine.

Coope Boyes & Simpson sing Reynardine

One evening as I rambled among the springing thyme,
I overheard a female conversing with Reynardine.

Her hair was black, her eyes were blue and her lips as red as wine,
And he smiled to look upon her, this sly bold Reynardine.

She says, “Young man, be civil and me company forsake,
For in my good opinion I fear you are some rake.”

“Oh no, me dear, I am no rake brought up in Venus' train,
But I'm searching for concealment all from the judge's men.”

Her cherry cheeks, her ruby lips they lost their former dye,
And she fell into his arms there all on the mountain high.

They hadn't kissed but once or twice till she came to again,
And quite modestly she asked him, “Pray tell to me your name.”

He says, “If by chance you look for me, perhaps you'll not me find.
But I'll be in my castle, enquire for Reynardine.”

And it's day and night she followed him and his teeth so bright did shine,
And he's led her over the mountain, this sly bold Reynardine.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing Reynardine

One evening as I rambled, two miles below Fermoy,
I met a pretty fair maiden all on the mountains high.
He said, “My pretty fair maiden, your beauty shines most clear,
And on this lonesome mountain I'm glad to meet you here.”

She said, “Young man, be civil, my company forsake,
For to my good opinion I fear you are a rake.
And if my parents came to know, my life they would destroy,
For keeping of you company all on the mountains high.”

“Oh, no, my dear, I am no rake brought up in Venus' train,
But I'm searching for concealment all from the judge's men;
Your beauty has ensnared me, I cannot pass you by,
And with my gun I'll guard you all on the mountains high.”

Her cherry cheeks and ruby lips, they lost their former dye,
And she fell into his arms there, all on the mountains high;
He had not kissed he? once or twice when she came to again,
And modestly she asked him, “Oh, sir, what is your name?”

“Well, if by chance you look for me, by chance you'll not me find,
'Tis writ in ancient history, my name is Reynardine.”
Sun and dark she followed him, his teeth so bright did shine,
And he led her over the mountains, that sly bold Reynardine.

So come all you pretty fair maidens, this warning take by me:
Never go a-roving and shun bad company,
for if you do you'll surely rue until the day you die,
And beware of meeting Reynardine all on the mountains high.

Links

See also the Digital Tradition lyrics for Reynardine and Reynardine (2), and the Mudcat Café thread Origins: Reynardine: Info?

Acknowledgements

Transcriptions by Garry Gillard; except for the John Roberts and Tony Barrand version, which is pinched from their website.