> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Heffle Cuckoo Fair

Heffle Cuckoo Fair

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Spring begins in Southern England on the 14th April, on which date the Old Woman lets the Cuckoo out of her basket at Heathfield Fair—locally known as Heffle Cuckoo Fair.

Cuckoo Song is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Heathfield Parish Memoirs and was collected in his Songs from Books (Macmillan, 1914). Peter and Antheas Bellamy and Chris Birch sang it as Heffle Cuckoo Fair on Bellamy's fourth album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Keep on Kipling.

Lyrics

Tell it to the locked-up trees,
Cuckoo, bring your song here!
Warrant, Act and Summons, please,
For Spring to pass along here!
Tell old Winter, if he doubt,
Tell him squat and square—a!
Old Woman!
Old Woman!
Old Woman's let the Cuckoo out
At Heffle Cuckoo Fair—a!

March has searched and April tried—
'Tisn't long to May now,
Not so far to Whitsuntide,
And Cuckoo's come to stay now!
Hear the valiant fellow shout
Down the orchard bare—a!
Old Woman!
Old Woman!
Old Woman's let the Cuckoo out
At Heffle Cuckoo Fair—a!

When your heart is young and gay
And the season rules it—
Work your works and play your play
'Fore the Autumn cools it!
Kiss you turn and turn about,
But my lad, beware—a!
Old Woman!
Old Woman!
Old Woman's let the Cuckoo out
At Heffle Cuckoo Fair—a!