> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > The Broomfield Hill
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Broomfield Hill
> Tim Hart & Maddy Prior > Songs > A Wager, a Wager
> June Tabor > Songs > The Broomfield Wager

The Broomfield Hill / The Broomfield Wager / A Wager, a Wager

[ Roud 34 ; Child 43 ; G/D 2:322 ; Ballad Index C043 ; Bodleian Roud 34 ; Wiltshire Roud 34 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl sang The Broomfield Hill, in 1956 on his and A.L. Lloyd's Riverside album The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Volume II. This and 28 other ballads from this series were reissued in 2009 on MacColl's Topic CD Ballads: Murder·Intrigue·Love·Discord. Kenneth S. Goldstein commented in the album's notes:

This ballad may have been known as early as the 16th century in Britain, for mention is made of as song Broom, broom on hill in various publications of that period, including The Complaynt of Scotland (1549).

European analogues of the ballad tale date from an even earlier period, one which has the same story with an interesting variation having been written in the 12th century.

Most early versions, as well as the foreign analogues, make mention of the use of a magic rune, charm or herb to cast a spell over the knight to induce a deep sleep. In the version sung by MacColl, as learned from his father, no mention is made of such a charm, but magical overtones may be intended in stanza 6, in which the young lady's action of walking nine times around the knight's body may be for the purpose of casting such a spell. It is also conceivable that the seemingly meaningless refrain sung by MacColl was used as a magic incantation.

Ralph Vaughan Williams collected The Broomfield Hill in 1910 from Mrs Powell, Weobley, Herefordshire, and published it in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. A.L. Lloyd recorded it in 1960 for his EP England & Her Folk Songs. All tracks from this EP were reissued in 2003 on the CD England & Her Traditional Songs. Lloyd wrote in the album's sleeve notes:

A young man lays long odds with a girl that if she comes to him among the gorse, she won't return a maid. She takes up the bet, tricks him while he sleeps, and wins the stake. English folk singers had special affection for this ancient ballad of the resourceful girl who (as early versions of the song make clear) had either bewitched or drugged the importunate fellow into his deep sleep. Many versions of the ballad have been noted all over the English countryside; Sharp alone found at least a dozen. Our version was found by Vaughan Williams in Herefordshire.

This darker strain that Lloyd only hinted at at the very end of his version is obviously in Cyril Poacher's version called The Broomfield Wager which he sang at the Ship Inn, Blaxhall, Suffolk, in a recording by Peter Kennedy. It was included on the anthology The Child Ballads Volume 1 (The Folksongs of Britain Volume 4; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968). He also sang this ballad in his home at Grove Farm, Blaxhall in a recording made by Tony Engle and Keith Summers in 1974. This was the title track of his 1975 Topic album The Broomfield Wager: Traditional Songs from Suffolk. Alan Lomax wrote in the booklet accompanying the Caedmon record:

Cyril Poacher is the heart and soul, as well as the master of ceremonies, of the Saturday night sing-songs at the Ship Inn, in the marshy land along the Suffolk Coast. He wears a sporty cap pulled down over his eyes winks knowingly at his audience, and calls for order like the chairman of a committee. Despite all outward signs of modernity, however, Cyril and his audience are linked, in fantasy, with the past of Britain. One of their favourite ballads deals sympathetically with Napoleon's son, but equally popular is this story out of European pre-history, in which a girl is required to go forth and defend her maidenhead by magic against a savage horseman, out of the ancient Aryan past. Yet Cyril is in perfect rapport with his crowd as he sings.

The oldest Child versions tell a longer story. The maid wagers with the knight that she can come alone into the fields and return home a virgin. She consults a witch and is told about the magical powers of broom flowers. She ventures forth, finds her knight asleep, strews the magic plants round him and thus returns safe home. In one Kentucky version the knight wakes and says,

If my hawk had wakened me while I slept,
Of her I would have had my will,
Or the buzzards that fly high over the sky
Of her flesh would have had their fill.

Thus a tale of pagan magic lived in the hills of the South. In this gentler English version the heroine hides in the bushes to watch her lover's reaction when he wakes, and the only trace of magic that remains is her nine-times challenging walk around her sleeping lover.

George ‘Pop’ Maynard's version called A Wager, a Wager is similar dark. It was recorded by Peter Kennedy for the BBC at Copthorne in 1956 and published in 1976 on Maynard's Topic album Ye Subjects of England: Traditional Songs from Sussex. The album sleeve notes commented:

Although mention is made of A Wager, a Wager (Child 43) in The Complaint of Scotland (1549), Pop's text is closer to that which the Birmingham printers Jackson & Son issued in the early 19th century.

Tim Hart & Maddy Prior's sang Maynard's version in 1968 on their first duo album Folk Songs of Old England Vol. 1. The record's sleeve notes commented:

From the singing of Pop Maynard comes this version of the well known Broomfield Hill or Broomfield Wager. Although less magical than most versions of the ballad the maid is clearly shown to be a witch, who by walking nine times around her suitor puts him into a deep sleep, thus winning the wager. The theme of a maid using artful or magical devices to maintain her virginity is recurrent throughout balladry.

Martin Carthy sang Broomfield Hill in 1965 on his eponymous first album, Martin Carthy. A live recording with Dave Swarbrick at the Folkus Folk Club in 1966 is available on Both Ears and the Tail. He recorded it again in 1971 for his album Landfall but with a number of small variations. Carthy commented in his first album's sleeve notes:

The use of broom in the old ballad Broomfield Hill to lull an over-enthusiastic suitor to sleep, is another example of the use of herbs. Broom collected on Twelfth Night was believed on the continent to be extremely potent against witches and spirits. The subject of the ballad is a wager between a knight and a maid, the stake being £500 against her virginity, but by use of the broom she outwits him and escapes. The song is widespread in England and Scotland and in some versions the knight eventually succeeds.

and in the Landfall sleeve notes:

The tunes for The Broomfield Hill and Brown Adam were written by myself, the former based on a Hebridean tune, which itself is a variant of the tune taken by Marjorie Kennedy Fraser to make the song known around the clubs as Kishmul's Galley and the latter, as far as I know, not being based on any other tune, but for a song that I wanted to do for years.

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang The Broomfield Wager in 1977 on their album of ballads of the supernatural, Dark Ships in the Forest. They commented in their liner notes:

Cyril Poacher, our source for this “pub” version of a most venerable ballad, was a regular at the Saturday night sing-songs in The Ship Inn, at Blaxhall in Suffolk. The somewhat garbled nature of the story line is heightened by the mysterious “Hold the wheel” chorus, apparently the result of a misunderstanding of “had his will” by a visiting (and presumably inebriated) yachtsman. It stuck.

Walter Pardon learned The Broomfield Hill from his uncle, Billy Gee (born 1863). He sang it in a recording made in his home in Knapton, Norfolk, by Mike Yates in between 1975 and 1978. These recordings were issued in 1982 on his Topic album A Country Life and in 1996 on the Topic anthology Hidden English: A Celebration of English Traditional Music. The original album's notes commented:

Tell me, broom wizard, tell me,
Teach me what to do,
To make my husband love me:
Tell me, broom wizard, do!

So begins an obscure 13th century English folk poem. The magical properties of the broom plant—its flowers were supposed to have a narcotic perfume—have been known throughout Europe for centuries; and Professor Child gives examples from as far apart as Norway and Italy, Iceland and Germany. In longer versions of the tale, following the wager, the maid consults a witch who imparts her knowledge of the broom flower, thus allowing the girl to win the tryst—an element that is missing in the few sets that have been collected recently.

Gordon Hall (1932-2000) sang a very long version of Broomfield Hill (with 26 verses!) in a recording made by John Howson in the singer's home in Pease Pottage, Sussex on February 8, 1995. This track was published in the same year on the Veteran CD When the May Is All in Bloom. It was also included in 2007 on the CD accompanying The Folk Handbook. John Howson commented in the album's booklet:

The story of Broomfield Hill or, as it is often known, The Broomfield Wager, or A Wager, a Wager, is at least seven hundred years old and is found right across Europe. Francis James Child gives examples from as far apart as Norway and Italy, Iceland and Germany and he gives six word-sets in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads Vol. 1 (Child 43) while B.H. Bronson gives no less than thirty versions of the tune in The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads Vol. 1.

It has been appearing in ballad form in England since the eighteenth century published by amongst others. Jackson of Birmingham and Such of London, but much of the earlier witchcraft was edited out in their broadside versions. This ballad was a great favourite with singers in England and Cecil Sharp collected at least twelve distinct versions. Amongst the many recorded versions are Walter Pardon of Norfolk, Cyril Poacher of Suffolk and ‘Pop’ Maynard of Sussex.

Gordon learned this classic version mainly from his mother Mabs and she is likely to have learned it from her mother, with her father filling in some of the words.

Frankie Armstrong sang The Broomfield Hill in 1997 on her CD Till the Grass O'ergrew the Corn. Brian Pearson commented in the album's booklet:

The Broomfield Hill has been most often collected in the south west of England, but has also cropped up in Scotland and North America. The story is an old one and the indefatigable Child traces it through European medieval literature from Iceland to Italy. Over the years, the magical elements have leaked away and the woman's grasp of grammarie is now barely hinted at in most versions. The loquacious and irreverent horse, hound and hawk have survived better, probably for the comedy value of their dialogue. Most texts have a kind of summery, light-hearted quality about them, but just underneath is the darker strain of rape and murder. Frankie has collated a couple of texts and set them to the tune obtained by Gavin Greig from Mrs Margaret Gillespie.

Jo Freya sang Broomfield Wager in 1997 on Tanteeka's album A New Tradition.

Kate Rusby sang Merry Green Broom in 2001 on her CD Little Lights.

June Tabor sang The Broomfield Wager in 2005 on her CD At the Wood's Heart. Her booklet notes commented:

Child No. 43 The Broomfield Hill: words largely from Alfred Williams Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames (1923), tune collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from Mrs Ellen Powell of Westhope, near Canon Pyon, Herefordshire, 1910.

One of the great landscape plants and, as it flowers in May and June, of major romantic and erotic significance in European poetry, broom has many virtues, amorous, magical, scenic, medicinal and practical. It was one of those plants used by witches and powerful against witches, liked by other-world beings and useful to keep them away.
(Geoffrey Grigson, The Englishman's Flora (1958))

Dr Faustus sang Broomfield Wager in 2005 as the title track of their Fellside CD Wager.

Bob Fox sang Broomfield Wager in 2006 on his Topic CD The Blast.

Malinky recorded Broomfield Hill for their 2009 CD Flower & Iron. This video shows them at Immaculata University Malvern, PA, on May 14, 2010:

Rachael McShane sang The Broomfield Wager in 2009 on her CD No Man's Fool; and her band Bellowhead sang Broomfield Hill with an additional “Merry Month of May” chorus in 2010 on their CD Hedonism. Jon Boden repeated it solo as the May 6, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the project's blog:

The story of the early morning tryst on top of a blossom-covered hill always seemed May morning-ish to me anyway, so when I found the “13 months” refrain in a fairly unremarkable Robin Hood ballad it seemed reasonable enough to marry the two together. The tune is Bogie's Bonnie Belle.

Andy Turner sang A Wager as the January 13, 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. His version comes from George Maynard though he noted in his blog that he first got to know this song from Tim Hart and Maddy Prior's album.

Lyrics

Ewan MacColl sings The Broomfield Hill

There was a knicht and a lady bricht
Set trysts amang the broom,
The ane to be there at twal' o' the clock
And the other ane true at noon.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
O, Leeze me thee and tho and a'
And madam will ye do?
The seal o' me is abracee
Fair maiden, I'm for you.

“I'll wager you, my bonnie lass,
Five hundred poond and ten,
That ye'll no' gang to the tap o' the hill
And come back a maid again.”

“I'll tak your wager, bonnie lad,
Five hunder pound and ten,
That I'll gang tae the tap o' the hill
And come back a maid again.”

O, greetin, greetin, went the out
But lauchin' came she in,
'Twas a for her body's safety
and the wager she did win.

As she walked up that high, high hill,
It was the hour of noon,
And there she saw her true lover
A-sleepin' in the broom.

Nine times she walked aroond his heid,
Nine times aroond his feet,
Nine times she kissed his bonnie red mou'
And O, but it was sweet.

When he awoke frae his muckle sleep,
And oot o' his unco dreams,
Say he, “My freres, whaure's my true love
That has been here and gane?”

“If ye slept mair in the nicht, maister,
Ye'd wauken mair I' the day,
If ye'd awakened frae your sleep
She wadna hae gotten away.”

“If ye'd hae waukened frae my sleep,
O' her I'd ha' taen my will,
Though she'd hae deed the very next day,
I would hae gotten my fill.”

So the wager's laid and the wager's paid,
Five hundred poond and ten,
'Twas a' for her body's safety
And the wager she did win.

A.L. Lloyd sings Broomfield HillWalter Pardon sings Broomfield Hill

It's of a young squire who rode out one day,
By chance his lady love did meet.
'Twas down in the lane that led to Broomfield Hill
With these words his lady he did greet:

“A wager, a wager with you, my pretty maid,
Here's five hundred pound to your ten;
That a maid you shall go to yon merry green broom,
But a maid you shall no more return.”

“A wager, a wager with you, pretty maid,
My one hundred pounds to your ten;
That a maid you shall go into yonder green broom
Bud a maid you shall never return.”

“A wager, a wager with you, kind sir,
With your five hundred pound to my ten;
That a maid I will go to yon merry green broom,
And a maid I will boldly return.”

“A wager, a wager with you, kind sir,
Your one hundred pounds to my ten;
That a maid I shall go into yonder green broom
And a maid I shall boldly return.”

Now when that she came to this merry green broom,
Found her true love was fast in a sleep,
With a fine finished rose, and a new suit of clothes,
And a bunch of green broom at his feet.

And when she arrived down in yonder green broom
She found her love fast asleep,
Dressed in fine silken hose, with a new suit of clothes
And a bunch of green broom at his feet.

Then three time she went from the crown of his head,
And three times from the sole of his feet.
And three times she kissed his red rosy cheeks,
As he lay fast in a sleep.

Then nine times did she go to the soles of his feet,
Nine times to the crown of his head;
And nine times she kissed his cherry-red lips
As he lay on his green mossy bed.

Then she took a gold ring from off of her hand,
And put that on his right thumb,
And that was to let her true love to know
That she had been there and was gone.

Then she took a gold ring from off of her hand
And placed it on his right thumb;
And that was to let her true love to know
That his lady had been there and gone.

Then nine times did she go to the crown of his head,
Nine times to the soles of his feet;
And nine times she kissed his cherry-red lips
As he lay on the ground fast asleep.

As soon as he awoke from his drowsy, drowsy sleep,
And found his true love had been there and gone,
It was then he remembered upon the cost,
When he thought of the wager that he'd lost.

And when he woke from out of his sleep
'Twas then that he counted the cost,
For he knew that his true love had been there and gone
And he thought of the wager he had lost.

Three times he called for his horse and his man,
The horse he'd once bought so dear,
Saying, “Why didn't you wake me out of my sleep,
When my lady, my true love, was here?”

He called three times for his horse and his man,
The horse that he bought so dear,
Saying, “Why didn't you wake me out of my sleep
When my lady, my true love, was here?”

“Three times did I call to you, master, me dear,
And three times did I blow with my horn,
But out of your sleep I couldn't you awake
Till your lady, your true love, was gone.

“Oh master, I called unto you three times
And three times I blew on my horn;
But I could not wake you from out of your sleep
Till your lady, your true love, has gone.”

“Oh, had I been awake when my true love was here,
Of her I would have my will;
If not, the pretty birds in this merry green broom
With her blood they should have all had their fill.”

Farewell and adieu to her loved one in gloom,
Farewell to the birds on Broomfield Hill.
A maid she did go into yonder green broom
And a maid she remains for ever still.

Cyril Poacher sings The Broomfield WagerMaddy Prior sings A Wager, a Wager

“O wager, o wager, o wager I'll lay you,
I'll lay you five thousands to your one,
That a maiden I'll go to that merry broomfield
And a maiden I'm sure I will return.”

“A wager, a wager, a wager I will lay,
I will lay you five hundred to one,
That you don't follow me unto yonder blooming tree
Or a maiden you never shall return.”

And then did this young maid back on a bay hobby's back
All for to ride to that green broom,
And when she got there she found her own true love
Lying in that merry green broom fast asleep.

So they both jogged along unto yonder blooming tree,
The weather being very mild and warm.
And he became quite weary, he sat down for to rest,
Then he fell fast asleep upon the ground.

Nine times did she walk round the crown of his head,
Nine times round the sole of his feet,
Nine times did she say, “Awake, master,
For your own true love in standing nearby.”

Then nine times she walked the place all around,
And nine times she walked it all round,
And nine times she kissed his red and rosy cheeks
As he lie fast asleep upon the ground.

And when she had done all she dare do,
She stepped behind that bunch of green broom
All for to hear what her own true love should say
When he awoke out of his domestic sleep.

Then a ring from her finger she earnestly drew
And placed it on her true love's right hand,
Saying, “This shall be a token for my true love when he wakes,
He will find that I have been but now I'm gone.”

He said, “If I had been awake instead of being asleep,
My will would I have done toward thee.
Your blood it would have been spilt for those small birds to drink,
And your flesh it would have been for their food.”

“If I had been awake love, when I was fast asleep,
Of you I would have had my will,
Oh you I would have killed and your blood I would have spilled,
And the small birds should all have had their fill.”

You hard-hearted young man, how could you say so?
Your heart it must be hard as any stone
For to murder the one that lov-ed you so well,
Far better than the ground that you stand on.

“Be cheerful, be cheerful and do not repine,
For naught is as clear as the sun.
𝄆 The money, the money, the money it is mine,
The wager I fairly have won. 𝄇”

Nine times of this bell did I ring, master,
Nine times of that whip did I snap;
Nine times did I say, “Awake, master,
For your own true love is standing nearby.”

Martin Carthy sings Broomfield HillBellowhead sing Broomfield Hill

Oh it's of a lord in the north country,
He courted a lady gay.
As they were riding side by side,
A wager she did lay.

“Oh I'll wager you five hundred pound,
Five hundred pound to one,
That a maid I will go to the merry greenwood,
And a maid I will return.”

“A wager, a wager,
Five hundred pound and ten
That you'll not go to the Broomfield Hill
And a maid return again.”

So there she sat in her mother's bower garden,
There she made her moan,
Saying, “Should I go to the Broomfield Hill,
Or should I stay at home?”

And oh she cried and oh she sighed
And oh she made her moan,
Saying, “Shall I go to the Broomfield Hill
Or shall I stay at home?

“For if I go to the Broomfield Hill
My maidenhead is gone,
But if I chance to stay at home
Why then I am forsworn.”

Chorus:
There's thirteen months all in one year
I've heard people say,
But the finest month in all the year
Is the very merry month of May.

Then up and spake this witch woman,
As she sat on a log,
Saying, “You shall go to the Broomfield Hill,
And a maid you shall come home.”

And up there spoke an old witch woman
As she sits all alone,
Saying, “You shall go to the Broomfield Hill
And a maid you shall return.

“Oh when you get to the Broomfield Hill,
You'll find your love asleep.
With his hawk, his hound, and his silk and satin gown,
And his ribbons hanging down to his feet.”

“For when you get to the Broomfield Hill
You will find your love asleep,
With his silken gown all under his head
And a broom-cow at his feet.

“And pick the blossom from off the broom,
The blossom that smells so sweet.
And lay some down at the crown of his head,
And more at the sole of his feet.”

“You take the blossom from off of the broom,
The blossom that smells so sweet,
And you lay it down all under his head
And more at the soles of his feet.”

(Chorus)

So she's away to the Broomfield Hill
And she's found her love asleep.
With his hawk, his hound, and his silk and satin gown,
And his ribbons hanging down to his feet.

And when she got to the Broomfield Hill
She found her love asleep,
With his hawk and his hound and his silk satin gown
And his ribbons all down to his feet.

And she's picked a blossom from off the broom,
The blossom that smells so sweet.
And she's laid some down at the crown of his head
And more at the sole of his feet.

She's taken the blossom from off of the broom,
The blossom that smells so sweet,
And the more she lay it round about
The sounder he did sleep.

And she's pulled off her diamond ring
And she's pressed it in his right hand,
For to let him know when he'd wakened from his sleep
That his love had been there at his command.

She's taken the ring from off of her finger
And laid it at his right hand
For to let him know when he awoke
That she'd been there at his command.

And when he woke out of his sleep,
And the birds began to sing,
Saying, “Awake, awake, awake master,
Your true love's been and gone.”

(Chorus)

“Oh where were you, me gay goshawk?
And where were you, me steed?
And where were you, me good greyhound?
Why did you not waken me?”

“Oh where were you, my good grey steed
That I have loved so dear?
Why did you not stamp and waken me
When there was a maiden here?“

“Oh I clapped with my wings, master,
And bold your bells I rang,
Crying, waken, waken, waken master,
Before this lady ran.”

“And I stamped with my foot, master,
And I shook me bridle till it rang.
But nothing at all would waken you
Till she had been and gone.”

“Oh I stamped with my feet, master,
And all my bells I rang,
But there was nothing could waken you
Till she had been and gone.”

“So haste ye, haste ye, me good white steed,
To come where she may be.
Or all the birds of the Broomfield Hill
Shall eat their fill of thee.”

“Oh haste, haste, my good grey steed
For to come where she may be,
Or all the birds of the Broomfield Hill
Will eat their fill of thee.”

“Oh you need not waste your good white steed
By racing to her home,
For no bird flies faster through the wood
Than she fled through the broom.”

“Oh you need not break your good grey steed
By racing to her home;
There's no bird flies faster through the wood
Than she flew through the broom.”

(Chorus)

Gordon Hall sings Broomfield Hill

“One wager, one wager, I will lay unto thee,
One hundred bright nobles to your ten,
That you will ne'er me follow to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
And a maiden you never shall return.”

“One wager, one wager, I will lay unto thee,
Your hundred bright nobles to my ten,
That I will go a maiden to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
And will come back a maiden once again.”

There was a knight and a lady so bright
Had a true tryst at the broom,
The one to go ride early on the May morning,
And the other in the afternoon.

The maiden sat at her mother's bower door,
And there she made her moan,
Saying, “Whether shall I go to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
Or shall I bide me at home?”

“For if I shall go to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
Then my maidenhead is gone,
But if I bide me at my mother's bower door,
Then my true love will call me forsworn.”

Then up then spake an old witch-woman,
All from her lofty room,
Saying, “Well you may go to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
And yet come a maiden home.

“For when you reach the bonny Broomfield Hill,
You will find your love asleep,
With a costly silver belt about his neck,
And its brother about his feet.

“Then take the blossom from off the green broom,
The blossom that smells so sweet,
And lay it down at his white collarbone,
There and place the twigs at his feet.

“Then take the ring from off your soft white hand
And place it on your true love's right thumb
That this will be of a token to your true love when he wakes
He will know that you have been at his command.”

“One wager, one wager, I will lay unto thee,
Your hundred bright nobles to my ten,
Then I will go a maiden to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
And will come back a maiden once again.”

The knight jogged on to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
The weather being very mild and warm,
As he became quite weary, why he sat him down to rest,
And he fell fast asleep on the green lawn.

Now when the maiden reached the bonny Broomfield Hill,
She found her love asleep,
With a costly silver belt about his neck,
And its brother about his feet.

Then took she the blossom from off the green bloom,
The blossom that smelled so sweet,
And laid it at his white collar bone,
Then placed the twigs at his feet.

Then three times she danced around the soles of his shoon,
And stroked down the hair of his head,
And three times she kissed his ruby ruby lips,
As he lay fast asleep on his green bed.

Then the ring from her finger she instanter withdrew,
And placed it on her true love's right thumb,
Saying, “This will be a token to my true love when he wakes,
He will know that I have been at his command.”

Now when the knight woke from out of his long sleep,
And espied the maiden's ring on his right thumb,
He knew that the fair maid had been at his command,
And the tryst wager she had won.

“Oh where were ye, my milk white steed,
That I have cost so dear,
That would not watch and waken me,
When there was a maiden here?”

“I stamped with my feet, master,
Which made my bright bridle ring.
But no kind of thing would waken ye
Till the maiden was past and gone.”

“And where were you, my gay goshawk,
That I have loved so dear,
That would not watch and waken me
When there was a maiden here?”

“I flapped with my wings, master,
Which made my bright bell to ring,
But nothing of this earth would waken ye,
Till the maiden was past and gone.”

“And where were ye, my addle-pated page,
As draws my meat and fee,
That would not watch and waken me,
Till the maiden skipped over the lea?”

“I prodded and shook, master,
Now have I this to say,
That if you lay still when laid abed at night,
Then you would not sleep through the day.”

“One wager, one wager, I did lay unto thee,
Your hundred bright nobles to my ten,
I did go a maiden to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
And did come back a maiden once again,”

“If I had been awake, when I was fast asleep,
Of you I would have had my will,
Or it's you I would have killed and your red blood would have spilled,
And the small birds would all have had their fill.”

“You hard-hearted young man, how can you say so?
Your heart must be hard as any stone,
For to think to murder one that has loved thee so long,
And has danced on the green and mossy lawn.

“One wager, one wager, I did lay unto thee,
Your one hundred bright nobles to my ten,
And I did go a maiden to the bonny Broomfield Hill,
And did come back a maiden once again,
Yes, I did go a maiden to the bonny Broomfield Hill
And did come back a maiden once again.”

Acknowledgements and Links

Garry Gillard transcribed Martin Carthy's version of Broomfield Hill. Thanks to Kevin Sexton for sending me Gordon Hall's lyrics.

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr/Tune Add: The Broomfield Hill and Origins: Broomfield Wager.