Friday, 23 September 2011


Sovay, by Shadrack Tye @ The Folkthing, 2011.

Kateverse folksong from the west of Morgander, which corresponds to something a little like northwestern France, and something a deal more like the 'Home Counties' of England.

In Leland Came Calling, I presented the trad 'love test' theme in folksongs with a (probably) happy ending. Even in folksongs, this does not always work out, on account of cruel creepy possessive stalky One True Loves without the brains God gave bastard geese in Ireland are not everybody's cup of cocoa.

Actually, in a statistically representative sample of real traditional folksongs, not much of anything ever works out without death and woe splashing everybody within a five-stanza radius - what with real traditional life in our heroic past tending to suck like Thor trying to empty the Ocean Sea through a mead-horn, and all that! An informal compendium of advice on dealing with said suckitude can be found here, and does not suck in any detectable manner.

Kateverse folk culture is not clearly happier than ours. If there is less pointless disaster in the samples of it I choose to channel, that is purely a reflection of my personal taste.

But taste is a spectrum, and it has a lot of points on it. This was inspired by a sort of random collision between Sovay, Lord Randall, and The Death of Young Andrew, fine songs all three.

Short and sweet as it might be to hear how Sovay dealt with Young Andrew, that song is not this song.


Carteret pulls on his boots
And cloak and mask so grim, oh,
To meet his true love on the road,
And see how she will trim, oh!
"Deliver up your silver chain,
Or lose your life opposing,
And every money red and white,
All riches now disclosing!"

Yvette gives freely every jewel,
Her every pound and penny,
And begs Gods' mercy of the rogue,
But he denies her any.
"Deliver up your silken dress,
And dance for rover's pleasure,
And all your body red and white
Shall yield to me its treasure!"

"Oh, I am loved by Carteret,
And he is fifteen of you,
And if you will me spoil and shame,
His sword shall cold reprove you!"
"I give no fig for Carteret,
But I will have his harlot!"
And pale her tears and clothes down fall,
Lest he should bleed her scarlet.

Now Carteret rips off his mask.
"The whore I see thou'dst play me,
Though knowing I should sooner die
Than deed or thought betray thee!"
Then he's betrayed with bitter blade
The heart that dear did love him,
And hacked her flesh for raven’s meat
Who set sweet life above him.

The raging Carteret rides home,
And makes his moan to mother
How foul the fair Yvette did prove.
"Cruel son! Thy gentle lover
Dared shame and pain to win again
To thee. She died no sinner!"
"The mind of honour longs to men -
To thee, to fetch my dinner!"

"Oh, mother, I am sick to die:
The harlot's shade must haunt me
And make a revel in my guts
With fellow-fiends, to taunt me!"
"Nay, son, 'tis only toadstools white
And red are doing for thee.
The kind Yvette I’d not forget,
But only that I bore thee!"

She's laid him under log and stone,
His bitter blade for pillow.
On Carteret's grave, grass grows none.
Yvette's is gold with willow.

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