Johnnie O’ Breadisley

return-from-the-hunt

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One of the ballads of England, Scotland and Ireland collected by  Francis James Child in the late 19th century, Johnny O’Breadisely, also know as Johnnie Cock among other names, recounts the tale of a young poacher and his battle against the King’s forester.

Johnnie rose on a May morning
C’d for water to wash his hands
Says – Gae lowse to me my twa grey dogs
That lie bound in iron chains
That lie bound in iron chains

Ye’ll busk, ye’ll busk, my noble dogs
Ye’ll busk and mak them boun’
For I’m awa to the Broadspear Hill
To ding the dun deer doon, don
To ding the dun deer doon

When Johnnie’s mither she heard o’ this
Her hands wi’ dool she wrang
Says – Johnnie, for your venison
To the green woods dinna gang, gang
To the green woods dinna gang

It’s we hae plenty o’ guid white breid
And plenty o’ guid reid wine
So, Johnnie, for your venison
To the green woods dinna gang, gang
To the green woods dinna gang

But Johnnie has breskit his guid benbow
His arrows one by one
And he’s awa to the gay green woods
To pull the dun deer doon, doon
To pull the dun deer doon

Johnnie shot, the dun deer lap
She was wounded in the side
And atween the water and the wood
The greyhounds laid her pride, pride
The greyhounds laid her pride

Johnnie ate o’ the venison
And the dogs drank o’ their bleid
An’ they a’ lay doon and fell asleep
Asleep as though they’d been deid, deid
Asleep as though they’d been deid

Then by there cam a silly auld man
And a silly auld man was he
And he’s awa tothe King’s forester
For to tell on young Johnnie, -ie
For to tell on young Johnnie

Then up and spak the King’s forester
And an angry man was he
Says – If this be Johnnie O’ Breadisley
My faith, we’ll gar him dee, dee
My faith, we’ll gar him dee

Stand oot, stand oot, my noble dogs
Stand oot and dinna flee
Stand fast, stand fast, my guid grey hounds
And we will mak them dee, dee
And we will mak them dee

Johnnie shot sax o’ them
And the seventh he wounded sair
And he swung his hough ow’r his horse back
And he swore that he would hunt mair, mair
He swore thet he would hunt mair

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