The Folk Show Treasure Hunt Song #1

Track 1 of Esteesee: "The Foster-Mother’s Tale"

Listen again until the end of August (ish) :

Classic Folk with Mike Norris / The Wireless

Online live link:

The Team:

Ange Hardy (vocals & guitar)
Steve Knightley (vocals)
Patsy Reid (viola)
Lukas Drinkwater (double bass) 
Archie Churchill-Moss (diatonic accordion)

The Song:

This was the very first piece of Coleridge’s writing that I read; a fragment from a play. I immediately fell in love with the story and the clarity of the tale so I wove the words into this song. The tale is of a baby found in the woods, his corruption, his imprisonment, his escape, and his ultimate decline to savagery.

The Lyrics:

There once was a woodman, Leoni,
Could fell and saw with a lusty arm.
Took to the woods, and by a tree
Found an abandoned child!
He took that baby under wing,
Wrapped in mosses lined with thistle-beards
Took him home from the huge round beam
By the purse of the good Lord reared.

Gone is he! taken to the sea
Never again to see his father
Gone is he! taken to the sea
Never again to see his father!
Gone is he! taken to the sea
Never again to see his father; gone!

So the babe grew up did whistle and sing
Oh such a pretty boy! most untouchable!
Would not learn would not come in
For out in the woods did play
And out in the woods was a grey haired man
And all through woodland lined with thistle-beards
Taught that youth to write with the pen
All through to his twentieth year.

So many a book did the young man read
Filled his mind with unlawful thoughts
One day as he stood with his Lord
The ground beneath them shook.
Well the earth did heave and the earth did groan
The wall fell down, and it near fell on them
All in a fright he came undone
Confession: judgment comes.

The youth was cast into a hole
And it broke the heart of poor Leoni
So all at once that boy he stole
Sent him across the sea.
But the boy he turned mad did go
News it came to poor Leoni
He seized a boat set sail alone
Died a savage man.

Notes From Coleridge:

"Poor old Leoni!—Angels rest his soul!
He was a woodman, and could fell and saw
With lusty arm. You know that huge round beam
Which props the hanging wall of the old Chapel?
Beneath that tree, while yet it was a tree,
He found a baby wrapt in mosses, lined
With thistle-beards, and such small locks of wool
As hang on brambles. Well, he brought him home,
And rear’d him at the then Lord Velez’ cost..."

"And once, as by the north side of the Chapel
They stood together, chain’d in deep discourse,
The earth heav’d under them with such a groan,
That the wall totter’d, and had well-nigh fallen
Right on their heads. My Lord was sorely frighten’d; A fever seiz’d him, and he
made confession
Of all the heretical and
lawless talk
Which brought this
judgment: so the youth was seiz’d
And cast into that hole..."

"He told Leoni, that the poor mad youth, Soon after they arriv’d in that new world, In spite of his dissuasion, seiz’d a boat, And all alone, set sail by silent moonlight Up a great river, great as any sea,
And ne’er was heard of more: but ‘tis suppos’d,
He liv’d and died among the savage men..."

-The Foster-Mother’s Tale

Posted by Ange Hardy on August 17th 2015

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