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The Sower's Song

[ Roud 1264 ; Ballad Index WT141 ; Wiltshire Roud 1264 ; words Thomas Carlisle]

Emily Portman sang Sowing Song in 2008 on Rubus' CD Nine Witch Knots. She commented in their liner notes:

In [Alfred Williams'] Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames this song is described as “a superior piece, not heard out of North Wiltshire”. With a bit of detective work I discovered that in fact the text started life as a poem entitled The Sower’s Song by Thomas Carlisle! I’m not sure how it worked its way from Scotland in to the Wiltshire tradition but I think it makes a great song.


Emily Portman sings Sowing Song

Now hands to seed sheet, boys,
We step and we cast. Old Time's on wing.
And, would you partake of Harvest joys,
The corn must be sown in spring.

Fall gentle and still, good corn,
Lie warm in your earthy bed;
And stand so yellow all in the morn,
For beast and man must be fed.

Old Earth is a pleasure to see
With sunshiny cloak of red and green;
The furrow lies fresh, and this year shall be
As years that are past have been.

Old Mother, receive this corn,
The son of six thousand golden sires;
All these on thy kindly breast were born,
One more your poor child requires.

Now, steady and sure again,
And measure of stroke and step we keep;
Thus up and down we cast our grain,
Sow well, and you shall gladly reap.