Monday, June 27, 2016

Basic Poetics - Ballads - (Harpkin & Fin & The Fause Knight Upon The Road)






















["The False Knight on the Road - illustration by Charles Vess]




AG: And then there is an early version of  rapping, and capping, and styling out, and the dirty dozens, between “Harpkin” and “Fin” and the Harpkin ballad – ( A “brae”, (by the way),  is a hill , “strae”, a straw, “thrave” is twenty-four sheaves)

“Harpkin gaed up to the hill./ (He) blew his horn loud and shrill/ And by came Fin./”What for stand you there?”, quo Fin./”Spying the weather”, quo Harpkin./ “What for had you your staff on your shoulder?”, quo Fin/ To haud the cauld frae me”, quo Harpkin./ “Little cauld will that haud frae you”, quo Fin:/ “As little will it win through me”, quo Harpkin/”I came by your door”, quo Fin:/”I lay it your road”, quo Harpkin/”Your dog batkit at me”, quo Fin:/”It’s his use and custom”, quo Harpkin/ I flang a stane at him”, quo Fin;/I’d rather it had been a bane”, quo Harpkin/”Your wife’s a lichter”, quo Fin – ( “Your wife’s lighter, I guess – “your wife’s lighter? - l-i-c-h-t-e-r) – “She’ll clim the brae the brichter”, quo Harpkin/”Of a braw lad bairn”, quo Fin/”There’ll be the mair men for the kings wars”, quo Harpkin” – (Oh, I see, well “lichter”, I don’t know what that means, I guess “heavy”- or “many?, because the wife’s later /”Of a braw lad bairn (of a baby boy)) - /”There’ll be the mair men for the kings wars”, quo Harpkin”/”There’s a strae a your beard”, quo Fin/”I’d rather it be a thrave”, quo Harpkin” – (i.e. twenty-four sheaths) -”The ox is eating at it”, quo Fin/”If the ox were i’ the water’, quo Harpkin/”And the water were frozen”, quo Fin:/”And the smith and his fore-hammer at it”, quo Harpkin - “fore-hammer, sledgehammer) – “And the smith were dead”, quo Fin;/”And another in his stead”, quo Harpkin.”/”Giff, gaff, quo Fin:/ “your mou’s fou o draff”, quo Harpkin" - ”It’s really funny, It’s a little like the Contest of Bards in the Kalevala, but funny names, “Harpkin” and “Fin”
And then there’s a parallel to that, another rapping contest , “The Fause Knight Upon the Road

Peter Orlovsky:  “Harpkin”’s like the harp instrument, I guess?

AG: Well, Harpkin is just the name of a guy. Like.. Harpkin  - Mr Harpkin and Mr Fin – It’s a weird poem, actually, because the things they exchange are both friendly and zany, completely nutty - “The dog’s barking at me” – “It’s his use and custom”! - I mean, it’s sort of ordinary, and..  “There’s a straw in your beard”. And.. what are they.. what are they laying on each other? - They’re laying something on each other – Fun? – (Next), “The Fause Knight Upon The Road” – This is page 44 of the Penguin Book of Ballads edited by GeoffreyGrigson, (as Harpkin was page 42)

“O whare are ye gaun?”/ Quo the fause knicht upon the road (so, False Knight) – “O whare are ye gaun/ Quo the fause knicht on the road/, “I’m gaun to the scule”./Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/"What is that upon your back?"/Quo the fause knicht upon the road/"Atweel it is my bukes",/Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/"What's that ye've got in your arm?"/Quo the fause knicht upon the road/"Atweel it is my peit." - (a piece of peat, for the school fire - peat - P-E-A-T) - ""Wha's aucht they sheep?"/Quo the fause knicht upon the road/"They are mine and my mither's."/Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/"How monie o them are mine?"/ Quo the fause knicht upon the road/ "A' they that hae blue tails."/Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/"I wiss ye were on yon tree"/ Quo the fause knicht upon the road/"And a gude ladder under me."/ Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/"And the ladder for to break"/Quo the fause knicht upon the road/ "And you for to fa down."/Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/"I wiss ye were in yon sie"/  Quo the fause knicht upon the road/And a gude bottom under me."/Quo the wee boy, and still he stude/ "And the bottom for to break"/Quo the fause knicht upon the road/"And ye to be drowned"/Quo the wee boy, and still he stude" - 
That’s where it breaks off in this version..  Just this.. A rapping contest


Student: What’s the title of that again?

AG: The Fause Knight Upon The Road  - It’s great, it’s cute.. it’s like a cute little kid, you know, giving it right back to him

Student: What's a False Knight?

AG: Well Knight is supposed to be honorable and here’s this big…big bully (but he’s just talking). But the kid is.. And the Knight, you know, is supposed to be honorable, you know, he’s not supposed to be accosting young kids on the road and telling them.. to hang themselves and be drowned, and steal their sheep. 

Student; Who edited that?

AG: Geoffrey Grigson

Student: Grigson?

AG: G-R-I-G-S-O-N


[Audio for the above can be heard  here, beginning at approximately thirty-and-a-half  minutes in and continuing until approximately thirty-six-and-a-quarter minutes in] 






No comments:

Post a Comment