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The Hag in the Beck

[George H. Cowling]

O! What do ye Wesh i' the Beck is a poem by George H. Cowling (1881-1946, Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds and subsequently Professor of English at Melbourne). It was included in F.W. Moorman's book Yorkshire Dialect Poems 1673-1915. Fay Hield sang it as The Hag in the Beck in 2016 on her third album, Old Adam.

Lyrics

George H. Cowling's O! What do ye Wesh i' the Beck Fay Hield sings The Hag in the Beck

“O! what do ye wesh i' the beck, awd wench?
Is it watter ye lack at heame?”
“It's nobbut a murderer's shrood, young man,
A shrood for to cover his weam.”

“On what do you wash in the beck, old hag?
Is it water you lack at home?”
“It's nowt but a murderer's shroud, young man,
A shroud for to cover his gown.”

“O! what do ye cut i' the slack, awd hag?
Is it fencin' ye lack for your beas'?”
“It's nobbut a murderer's coffin, sir,
A coffin to felt his feace.”

“Oh what do you cut in the slack, old hag?
Is it fencing you lack for your beasts?”
“It's nowt bbut a murderer's coffin, sir,
A coffin to cover his face.”

“O! what do ye greaye at the crossroads, witch?
Is it roots ye lack for your swine?”
“It's nobbut a murderer's grave, fair sir,
A grave for to bury him fine.”

“And what do you dig at the crossroads, witch?
Is it roots that you lack for your swine?”
“It's nowt but a murderer's grave, young man,
A grave for to bury him fine.”

“An' whea be-owes coffin an' shrood, foul witch?
An' wheas is the grave i' the grass?”
“This spell I hae woven for thee, dear hairt,
Coom, kill me, an' bring it to pass.”

“And who owns the coffin and shroud, foul witch?
And why's the grave in the grass?”
“This spell I've woven for you, dear heart,
Come, kill me, and bring it to pass.”