> Folk Music > Songs > Peacock Followed the Hen

Peacock Followed the Hen

[ Roud 10956 ; Mudcat 19393 ; trad.]

J. Collingwood Bruce, John Stokoe: Northumbrian Minstrelsy

Nancy Kerr performed Gan tae the Kye and Peacock Followed the Hen on Stick in the Wheel’s 2019 anthology From Here: English Folk Field Recordings Volume 2. She noted:

A medieval song. It is a tune and a song. I’ve always liked the way that you can take especially Northumbrian tunes and kind of intertwine them. It’s a tune called Peacock Followed the Hen which I’ve always thought of as Northumbrian. It’s in Playford as well, I think it’s called Mad Moll, some really ubiquitous sort of 9/8 slip jig. And Gan Tae the Kye, which is a piece of North-Eastern kind of Border poetry really. It’s in a book, Stokoe—Songs of the North Country. And yeah, they just seem like sisters so I kind of tied them together. Like Nancy Clough, I don’t remember not knowing Peacock Followed the Hen. And Gan Tae the Kye, often you hear the tune played but you don’t always hear it as a song. They’re so spooky, really a bit Other.

Frankie Archer sang Peacock Followed the Hen on her 2023 EP Never So Red. She noted:

Peacock Followed the Hen is an old Northumbrian Smallpipes tune and song. It has lyrics too which are cryptic in parts but quite clearly talk about lust and sex. “Aal the neet ower and ower” (all night over and over) “the peacock follows the hen”. So it’s a very one-sided thing where one person is chasing or pressuring another person for sex. Normally this is interpreted as a man chasing a woman for sex. I“wasn’t a big fan of this message so I added another verse, quite cryptic again but basically saying: stop the one-sided pursuit. That’s not cool. Step back and listen to what the other person wants, have respect. If it’s a two-way thing, if you listen to each other, then maybe both people can have more fun.


Frankie Archer sings Peacock Followed the Hen

Aal the neet ower and ower,
And aal the neet ower again –
Aal the neet ower and ower,
The peacock follows the hen.

The cock is a dainty dish,
The hen is all hollow within;
There’s nee deceit in a puddin’;
A pie’s a dainty thing.

Tastier is the puddin that
Sits on the counter top;
Pastry is made by rubbing
The water in drop by drop.