From Hull and Halifax and Hell

The traditional song of a Dalesman forced to flee to industrial towns the ‘three ridings round’.

The Dalesman’s Litany – Tim Hart & Maddy Prior

Maddy Prior is one of folk music’s heroes and still tours with The Carnival Band in a pre Christmas show featuring carols and seasonal music. Well worth looking out for a performance in Hull, Halifax or other local venues.
Maddy with Tim Hart and Ashley Hutchings were original members of the highly successful folk-rock band Steeleye Span. Sadly Tim Hart Died at the age of 61 in 2009.

The Dalesman’s Litany is a poem written around 1900. It is one of the best known works of Frederick William Moorman.
Moorman was a professor of English at Leeds University and compiled several books of traditional Yorkshire stories and poems and scholarly works such as The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Sadly Moorman drowned in 1920 at the age of 46. He was succeeded at Leeds by J. R. R. Tolkien. Much of his poetry is available on Poetry Cat including A Song Of the Yorkshire Dales.

The Dalesman’s Litany

It’s hard when fowks can’t finnd their wark
Wheer they’ve bin bred an’ born;
When I were young I awlus thowt
I’d bide ‘mong t’ roots an’ corn.
But I’ve bin forced to work i’ towns,
So here’s my litany:
Frae Hull, an’ Halifax, an’ Hell,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

When I were courtin’ Mary Ann,
T’ owd squire, he says one day:
“I’ve got no bield for wedded fowks;
Choose, wilt ta wed or stay?”
I couldn’t gie up t’ lass I loved,
To t’ town we had to flee:
Frae Hull, an’ Halifax, an’ Hell,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

I’ve wrowt i’ Leeds an’ Huthersfel’,
An’ addled honest brass;
I’ Bradforth, Keighley, Rotherham,
I’ve kept my barns an’ lass.
I’ve travelled all three Ridin’s round,
And once I went to sea:
Frae forges, mills, an’ coalin’ boats,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

I’ve walked at neet through Sheffield loans,
‘T were same as bein’ i’ Hell:
Furnaces thrast out tongues o’ fire,
An’ roared like t’ wind on t’ fell.
I’ve sammed up coals i’ Barnsley pits,
Wi’ muck up to my knee:
Frae Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

I’ve seen grey fog creep ower Leeds Brig
As thick as bastile soup;
I’ve lived wheer fowks were stowed away
Like rabbits in a coop.
I’ve watched snow float down Bradforth Beck
As black as ebiny:
Frae Hunslet, Holbeck, Wibsey Slack,
Gooid Lord, deliver me!

But now, when all wer childer’s fligged,
To t’ coontry we’ve coom back.
There’s fotty mile o’ heathery moor
Twix’ us an’ t’ coal-pit slack.
And when I sit ower t’ fire at neet,
I laugh an’ shout wi’ glee:
Frae Bradforth, Leeds, an Huthersfel’,
Frae Hull, an’ Halifax, an’ Hell,
T’ gooid Lord’s delivered me!

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