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Sussex Drinking Song

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 127507 ; Hilaire Belloc, early 20th century]

Martyn Wyndham-Read set Hilaire Belloc's poem Drinking Song (from his 1911 book The Four Men: A Farrago) to the Irish tune of The West's Awake and sang it as Sussex Drinking Song in 1984 on his Greenwich Village album A Rose from the Bush. He returned to this song in 2008 on his album Jackeroo.

Finest Kind sang the Sussex Drinking Song on their 1996 album Lost in a Song. They noted:

The text of this song is a poem by the turn of the century writer Hillaire Belloc, for whom Sussex was evidently more than just home. Martyn Wyndham-Read married the spectacular tune of the Irish rebel song, The West's Awake, to the poem, and recorded it on his album A Rose from the Bush. As he says, the Irish and the English have been stealing each other's tunes for years, so if it's larceny, at least it's traditional larceny. Ian [Robb] recalls an evening spent poring over a map of Sussex with his late singing partner David Parry, trying to decipher all the place names in the song. It is sung here for David's son, Richard.

Lyrics

Hilaire Belloc's poem Drinking Song

On Sussex hills where I was bred,
When lanes in autumn rains are red.
Where Arun tumbles in his bed,
And busy great gusts go by;
When branch is bare in Burton Glen
And Bury Hill is a whitening, then
I drink strong ale with gentlemen;
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny,
Which nobody can deny!

In half-November off I go,
To push my face against the snow,
And watch the winds wherever they blow,
Because my heart is high;
Till I settle me down in Steyning to sing
Of the women I met in my wandering,
And of all that I mean to do in the spring,
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny,
Which nobody can deny!

Though times be rude and weather be rough,
And ways be foul and fortune tough,
We are of the stout South Country stuff,
That never can have good ale enough,
And do this chorus cry!
From Crowboro' Top to Ditchling Down,
From Hurstpierpoint to Arundel Town,
The girls are plump and the ale is brown:
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny!
If he does he tells a lie!

Martyn Wyndham-Read sing the Sussex Drinking Song

On Sussex Downs, where I was bred,
In rains when autumn lanes are red,
Where Arun tumbles in his bed
And gusty gales go by.
On branches bare on Burton Glen
And Bury Hill’s a whitening then;
I drink strong ale with gentlemen,
𝄆 Which no one can deny, deny. 𝄇

In cold November off I go
nd turn my back against the snow
And watch the wind where ‘ere it blow
Because my heart is high
Till I settle me down in Steyning to sing
of the girls I’ve met in my wandering;
And all I mean to do in Spring,
𝄆 Which no one can deny, deny. 𝄇

‘Though times be hard and fortunes tough,
The ways be foul and the weather rough,
We are of stout South Country stuff
Who cannot have strong ale enough.
From Crowborough Top to Ditchling Down,
From Hurstpierpoint to Arundel Town,
The girls are fine, the ale is brown,
𝄆 Which no one can deny, deny. 𝄇