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The Mower / The Buxom Lass
; Master title: The Mower
; Ballad Index
A.L. Lloyd sang The Mower unaccompanied on the 1966 Topic theme album of traditional erotic songs, The Bird in the Bush. This recording was also included in 1992 on the Fellside anthology of English traditional songs, Voices. Lloyd recorded the song a second time in 1966 for his album The Best of A.L. Lloyd. He wrote in the latter album's sleeve notes:
Folk songs often embody very ancient ideas of love. The old magical notion that all the world's phenomena are interdependent and that the closest unity exists between the germination of grain and the amorous encounters of men and women is still to be found, and the act of love is often symbolised as ploughing, sowing, reaping, mowing. So with this song where a rather delicate erotic situation is expressed with candour, but also with tenderness an humour. The Mower often appeared in 19th century broadsides and several versions reside among collector's manuscripts, but it is missing from the standard song-books for all that is fundamentally a kind and decent song.
Cyril Tawney sang The Buxom Lass in 1974 on the Argo theme album The World of the Countryside.
Martyn Wyndham-Read sang The Mower in 1976 on the fundraiser album The Second Folk Review Record, in 1979 on his album Andy's Gone, and in 2008 on his CD Jackeroo.
Chris Foster sang The Buxom Lass in 1977 on his Topic album Layers.
Barry Skinner sang The Buxom Lass in 1978 on his Fellside album with Geoff Lakeman, Bushes and Briars.
An early incarnation of The Kings of Calicutt, consisting of Nancy Carr, vocals and fiddle, Eliza Carthy, fiddle, and Saul Rose, concertina, sang The Buxom Lass and played the tune Three Around Three. They were joined on this recording by Maclaine Colston on hammered dulcimer and Dan Plews on guitar. This track was released on the 1996 Mrs Casey Records compilation Evolving Tradition 2.
Pete Morton sang The Mower and the Dairymaid on his 1998 Harbourtown album Trespass. He noted:
A bit of 19th century Sid James and Barbara Windsor going on here. “Carry on Round the Garden.”
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman sang The Buxom Lass in 2003 on their album 2..
Lauren McCormick and Emily Portman sang The Buxom Lass in 2007 on their privately issued EP Lauren McCormick & Emily Portman.
Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson sang The Mower in 2008 on their WildGoose CD of traditional songs from Devon and Cornwall from the collection of Sabine Baring-Gould, Dead Maid's Land. Their liner notes commented:
Although Baring-Gould ‘cleaned up’ this song of sexual encounter for publication in A Garland of Country Song, the words and tune as sung here were taken from James Parsons of Lewdown and are recorded unedited in his notebooks. A printed copy of the song can also be found in Baring-Gould¹s personal collection of broadsides.
The Hungarian group Simply English sang The Buxom Lass on their 2017 CD Long Grey Beard and a Head That's Bald.
A.L. Lloyd sings The Mower
As I went out one morning on the fourteenth of July
I met a maid and I asked her age and she gave me this reply:
“I have a little meadow, I've kept for you in store
And it's only due, I should tell you true, it never was mowed before.”
She said: “Me handsome young man, if a mower that you be,
I give you good employment, so come along with me.”
Well it was me good employment to wander up and down
With me tearing scythe all to contrive to mow her meadow down.
Now me courage being undaunted, I stepped out on the ground,
And with me tearing scythe I then did strive to mow her meadow down.
I mowed from nine till dinnertime, it was far beyond my skill,
I was obliged to yield and to quit the field and the grass was growing still.
Now the mower she kissed and did pretest, this fair maid bein' so young.
Her little eyes they glittered like to the rising sun.
She said: “I'll strive to sharpen your scythe, so set it in me hand,
And then perhaps you will return again to mow me meadow land.”
The Kings of Calicutt sing The Buxom Lass
A labouring lad walk'd out one day and he met with a buxom lass,
Belonging to a dairyman, she had a field of grass,
It grew between two mountains at the foot of a running spring,
She hir'd him out to cut it down while the birds did sweetly sing.
He said, “My handsome fair maid, what wages will you give?
For mowing is hard labour unless your scythe be good.”
She says, “If you should please me well, as I am a lady clear,
I will give a crown an acre and plenty of strong beer.”
He said, “You handsome fair maid, I like your wages well,
And if that I should mow your grass you'll say it done well,
For my scythe is in good order and lately has been ground,
And so, bonny lass, I'll mow your grass till it's down unto the ground.”
With courage like a lion he entered in the field,
But before he had mowed one swathe of grass he was obliged to yield,
Before he had mowed one swathe of grass his scythe was bent and broke.
She said, “My handsome fair man, you're tired of your work.”
She said, “My handsome fair man, you're tired of your work,
Oh, mowing is hard labour and weakening to the back,
yes, mowing is hard labour and it you must forsake,
But around my little meadow, you may use your fork and rake.”
He said, “My handsome fair maid, pray do not on me frown,
For if I stayed the summer long I could not cut it down,
For it is such a pleasant place and grows such crops of grass,
For it is well-watered by the spring that makes it grow so fast.”