> The Copper Family > Songs > Brisk Young Ploughboy
> The Watersons > Songs > The Brave Ploughboy

Brisk Young Ploughboy / The Brave Ploughboy

[ Roud 1205 ; Ballad Index PECS004 ; trad.]

Brisk Young Ploughboy is a harvest supper song from the repertoire of the Copper Family. Bob and Jim Copper sang it in a BBC recording made by Brian George on March 1, 1951 (BBC archive 16063); this was included on the Topic CD Come Write Me Down: Early Recordings of the Copper Family of Rottingdean. Bob and John Copper sang it in 1971 on the Trailer 4 LP box A Song for Every Season and, in a recording from May 1974 at the Lewes Arms, Mount Place, Lewes, Sussex, on the Transatlantic album The Brave Ploughboy. The Copper Family sang it live at Will Noble's barn in Denby Dale, Yorkshire on September 27, 1986; this was published on the EFDSS cassette Wills' Barn. Finally, they sang it on their 1988 EFDSS LP Coppersongs: A Living Tradition.

The Watersons sang this song as The Brave Ploughboy with Mike Waterson in lead on their 1981 album, Green Fields. A.L. Lloyd commented in the liner notes:

This piece, common enough, is sung here in the version printed by the Rev. John Broadwood, squire of Lyne, near Dorking, as far back as 1843. His collection of Old English Songs was the first to be published for the sake of the tunes, and apparently most if not all of them were heard by him at Christmas time, sung by singers “who go about to the neighbouring houses singing, or ‘wassailing’, as it is called, at that season.” Brave Ploughboy isn't a typical wassail piece, rather more like the sort of things sung at the ceremonial boozing parties after harvest time, but wassailers were seldom fussy about their repertory.

Lyrics

The Copper Family sing Brisk Young Ploughboy

'Twas of a brisk young ploughboy, come listen to this refrain
And join with me in chorus and sing the ploughboy's praise.
My song is of the ploughboy's praise and unto you I'll relate the same,
He whistles and sings and drives his plough, the brave ploughboy.

So early in the morning the ploughboy he is seen
All hastening to the stable his horses for to clean.
Their manes and tails he does comb straight, with chaff and corn he will them bate
And he'll endeavour to plough straight, the brave ploughboy.

When he goes out in the morning to harrow plough or sow
And with a gentle cast, my boys, he'll give his corn a throw.
All this I'll have you understand is just to fill the reaper's hand,
Likewise I'll have you understand, it comes from the ploughboy.

Now seedtime being over the fields look fresh and gay
There's merry lads to mow the grass while damsels make the hay.
The small birds sing on every tree, the cuckoo joins sweet harmony,
All welcome here as you may see, the brave ploughboy.

Then haying being over and harvest does draw near,
Our Master he does welcome us with plenty of beef and beer.
We all sit round to drink our beer while Peace and Plenty fill the year
And we'll be happy while we are here and drink to the ploughboy.

Now harvest being over we start the plough once more,
Our Master has invited us unlocks his cellar door.
With cake and ale we have our fill because we've done our work so well
And there's no one can despise the skill of the brave ploughboy.

The Watersons sing The Brave Ploughboy

Come all ye jolly ploughboys come listen to me lays
And join with me in chorus, and I'll sing the ploughboy's praise
My song is of the ploughboy's fame
And unto you I'll relate the same
He whistles, sings, and drives his team, the brave ploughing boy

So early in the morning, the ploughboy he is seen
He hastens to the stable, his horses for to clean
Their manes and tails he will comb straight
With chaff and corn he does them bait
And he'll endeavour to plough straight, the brave ploughing boy.

Now all things being ready and the harness that's put to
All with a shining countenance his work he will pursue
The small birds sing on every tree
The cuckoo joins in harmony
To welcome us, as you may say, the brave ploughing boy.

So early in the morning to harrow, plough, and sow
And with a gentle cast, me boys, we'll give the corn a throw
Which makes the valleys thick to stand
With corn to fill the reaper's hand
All this, you well may understand, comes from the ploughing boy.

Now the corn it is a-growing, and seed-time that's all o'er
Our master he does welcome us and unlocks the cellar door
With cake and ale we'll have our fill
Because we've done our work so well
There's none here can excel the skill of the brave ploughing boy.

Now the corn it is a-growing, and the fields look fresh and gay
The cheerful lads come in to mow, while damsels make the hay
The ears of corn they now appear
And peace and plenty crowns the year
So we'll be merry whilst we are here, and drink to the brave ploughing boy.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Greer Gilman for the transcription.