At Casterbridge Fair

Song Cycle by Frederic Goossen (b. 1927)

Word count: 776

1. The Ballad-Singer [sung text not yet checked]

Sing, Ballad-singer, raise a hearty tune;
Make me forget that there was ever a one
I walked with in the meek light of the moon
   When the day's work was done.

Rhyme, Ballad-rhymer, start a country song;
Make me forget that she whom I loved well
Swore she would love me dearly, love me long,
   Then - what I cannot tell!

Sing, Ballad-singer, from your little book;
Make me forget those heart-breaks, achings, fears;
Make me forget her name, her sweet sweet look -
   Make me forget her tears.

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First published in Cornhill Magazine, April 1902, revised 1909

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Former beauties [sung text not yet checked]

These market-dames, mid-aged, with lips thin-drawn,
  And tissues sere,
Are they the ones we loved in years agone,
  And courted here?

Are these the muslined pink young things to whom
  We vowed and swore
In nooks on summer Sundays by the Froom,
  Or Budmouth shore?

Do they remember those gay tunes we trod
  Clasped on the green;
Aye; trod till moonlight set on the beaten sod
  A satin sheen?

They must forget, forget! They cannot know
  What once they were,
Or memory would transfigure them, and show
  Them always fair.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. After the Club-Dance [sung text not yet checked]

Black'on frowns east on Maidon,
   And westward to the sea,
But on neither is his frown laden
   With scorn, as his frown on me!

At dawn my heart grew heavy,
   I could not sip the wine,
I left the jocund bevy
   And that young man o' mine.

The roadside elms pass by me, -
   Why do I sink with shame
When the birds a-perch there eye me?
   They, too, have done the same!

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The Market-Girl [sung text not yet checked]

Nobody took any notice of her as she stood on the causey kerb,
All eager to sell her honey and apples and bunches of garden herb;
And if she had offered to give her wares and herself with them too that day,
I doubt if a soul would have cared to take a bargain so choice away.

But chancing to trace her sunburnt grace that morning as I passed nigh,
I went and I said, "Poor maidy dear! -- and will none of the people buy?"
And so it began; and soon we knew what the end of it all must be,
And I found that though no others had bid, a prize had been won by me.

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First published in The Venture, 1903, rev. 1909
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The inquiry [sung text not yet checked]

And are ye one of Hermitage -
Of Hermitage, by Ivel Road,
And do ye know, in Hermitage
A thatch-roofed house where sengreens grow?
And does John Waywood live there still --
He of the name that there abode
When father hurdled on the hill
Some fifteen years ago?

Does he now speak o' Patty Beech,
The Patty Beech he used to -- see,
Or ask at all if Patty Beech
Is known or heard of out this way?
-- Ask ever if she's living yet,
And where her present home may be,
And how she bears life's fag and fret
After so long a day?

In years agone at Hermitage
This faded face was counted fair,
None fairer; and at Hermitage
We swore to wed when he should thrive.
But never a chance had he or I,
And waiting made his wish outwear,
And Time, that dooms man's love to die,
Preserves a maid's alive.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. A wife waits [sung text not yet checked]

 Will's at the dance in the Club-room below,
    Where the tall liquor-cups foam;
 I on the pavement up here by the Bow,
    Wait, wait, to steady him home.

 Will and his partner are treading a tune,
    Loving companions they be;
 Willy, before we were married in June,
    Said he loved no one but me;

 Said he would let his old pleasures all go
    Ever to live with his Dear.
 Will's at the dance in the Club-room below,
    Shivering I wait for him here.

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Note: A "bow" is a curved corner by a cross-street.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. After the Fair [sung text not yet checked]

 The singers are gone from the Cornmarket-place
       With their broadsheets of rhymes,
 The street rings no longer in treble and bass
       With their skits on the times,
 And the Cross, lately thronged, is a dim naked space
    That but echoes the stammering chimes.

 From Clock-corner steps, as each quarter ding-dongs,
       Away the folk roam
 By the "Hart" and Grey's Bridge into byways and "drongs,"
       Or across the ridged loam;
 The younger ones shrilling the lately heard songs,
    The old saying, "Would we were home."

 The shy-seeming maiden so mute in the fair
       Now rattles and talks,
 And that one who looked the most swaggering there
       Grows sad as she walks,
 And she who seemed eaten by cankering care
    In statuesque sturdiness stalks.

 And midnight clears High Street of all but the ghosts
       Of its buried burghees,
 From the latest far back to those old Roman hosts
       Whose remains one yet sees,
 Who loved, laughed, and fought, hailed their friends, drank their toasts
    At their meeting-times here, just as these!

Authorship

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]