> Louis Killen > Songs > The Cock

Oh, Once I Loved a Lass / The Cock / As I Stood under My Love’s Window / The Light of the Moon / Fallow Ground

[ Roud 21234 ; Master title: Oh, Once I Loved a Lass ; Ballad Index ReCi059 ; VWML HAM/2/10/24 , HAM/4/22/23 ; Mudcat 68401 ; trad.]

Bronson: Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads #248.14, Brocklebank & Kindersley: Dorset Book of Folk Songs, 1948 p.7, Palmer: Everyman’s Book of English Country Songs Purslow: Marrow Bones Reeves: The Everlasting Circle, p.59

Ewan MacColl sang the night-visiting song It Was Under My Love’s Window in 1958 on his and Isla Cameron’s Riverside album English and Scottish Love Songs. A.L. Lloyd noted:

One of the most remarkable of English love lyrics is the 16th century fragment called Westron Wind. One of the verses of the song given here is so reminiscent of Westron Wind that it seems possible the parent of that famous fragment is in fact the ballad of the cock that crew too early and made the lover turn out of bed into the cold windy night. It may also be a variant of the rarely reported The Grey Cock (Child #248), with the ghostly visitor rationalized. This version was found in the manuscript collection of H.E.D. Hammond, as collected in 1905 from a Mr. Barrett of Puddle-town, Dorset. [VWML HAM/2/10/24] .

Louis Killen sang The Cock in 1965 on his first Topic LP Ballads and Broadsides. This track was also included on the 1996 CD reissue of the anthology The Bird in the Bush. Angela Carter noted on the original album:

This frank and warm-hearted love-song is one of the well-known group of “night visiting songs”. As in may of these songs, and in the aubades of the troubadour poets of the middle ages, the crowing of the cock signals the passing of time and the parting of the lovers. In some of this song’s relations, notably the ballad The Grey Cock, cock-crow has a supernatural significance; it summons a dead lover back to his grave after a last night with a living true love. But here, it breaks the embraces of earthly lovers and the young man trudges off over the cold fields, thinking ruefully of his girl in her snug bed.

Hammond found sets of this song in Dorset, one of which is printed in A Dorset Book of Folk Songs, Brocklebank and Kindersley, London 1948 [as O Once I Loved a Lass, sung by Robert Barratt, Puddletown, Dorset, in Sept/Oct 1905] [VWML HAM/2/10/24] .

John Goodluck sang The Cock in 1977 on his Traditional Sound Recordings album Monday’s Childe. He noted:

Cockerels have never been reliable time measuring devices, as this song recounts. The young man’s downfall is due to the full moon and a premature cockcrow, and we are left feeling quite sorry for him as he sets out on the lonely road home.

Tim Laycock sang The Light of the Moon in 1980 on his Greenwich Village album Capers & Rhymes.

Louis Killen sang The Cock in 1989 on his cassette The Rose in June. He wrote in the sleeve notes that he learned the song from Brian Ballinger in Oxford.

Annie Winter sang The Pretty Cock at Royal Oak Folk Lewes on 20 May 2010, giving Louis Killen as her source:

Jon Boden sang Pretty Cock / As I Stood under My Love’s Window as the 9 July 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day, and Spiers & Boden sang it as Fallow Ground as the title track of their 2021 album Fallow Gound, where he noted:

Fallow Ground, or As I Stood under My Love’s Window or more prosaically The Cock. An unusual traditional love song in that it’s neither boasting of “conquest” nor is it lamenting betrayal or abandonment. Essentially a good time was had by all, after which she had a nice lie-in and he went for a nice walk.

Andy Turner learned this song as The Light of the Moon from Dave Townsend and the Mellstock Band, with whom he sang it on their 1995 album Songs of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. He sang it as the 16 June 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. The song itself was collected from Robert Barratt of Piddletown, Dorset, by Henry Hammond in June 1906.


Robert Barratt sings The Grey Cock / Once I Loved a Lass / The Light of the Moon

[Note: The song is catalogued with all three titles in the Roud Index]

O once I loved a lass but she loved not me,
Because I looked too poor,
Now she all in good part has stole away my heart
And will keep it for evermore.

O ’twas under my true love’s window one night,
Yo! there did I holloa so shillo, little shillo, little shillo;
My true love she arose and she slipped on her cloth
And so softaly she let me in.

Yo! ’twas all the fore part of the night
We did both sport and play, play so pretty, play so pretty, play;
And all the last part of the night
O she sleeped in my arms till day.

Now my father keeps a cock and a wonderful cock
And he crows in the morning: so soon,
I thought it had been day, when I sent my love away
But it proved to be the light of the moon.

Now I’ll be so true to my love as the sun that doth
Over the fallow, the fallow, fallow ground,
And if she’s not true to me as I am true to she
I would rather she were lost than found.

Louis Killen sings The Cock

As I stood under my love’s window one night,
I cried so shrill, as shrill, as shrill, as shrill indeed.
My love she arose and put on her clothes
And come down and let me in.

Now when I beheld my true love’s charms,
My heart beat so faint, so very faint, so very faint,
And I gathered her up all in my arms
And carried her off to bed.

Now in the first part of the night
We did sport and play, so pretty play, so pretty play,
And in the second part of the night
Asleep in me arms she lay.

Now my love she had a cock, and a pretty crowing cock,
And it crowed in the morn so very soon, so very soon.
My love, she thought it day and she hastened me away,
But it proved to be the light of the moon.

Now the cock it did crow and the wind it did blow
As I tripped o’er the plain, so very plain, so very plain.
I wished myself back in my true love’s arms
And she in a bed again.

And I’ll be true to my love as the sun do shine
All over the fallow, fallow, fallow, fallow ground
And if my love ain’t true to me as I am to she,
Well, I’d rather she was lost than found.