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Who Owns the Game?

[ Roud 3209 ; trad.]

Fred ‘Pip’ Whiting of Kenton, Suffolk, sang Who Owns the Game?, which he “picked […] up many years ago in Burstall Half Moon”, on January 23, 1984 to John Howson and Mike Yates. This recording was published in the same year as title track of the album Who Owns the Game?, which was reissued on CD in 2001 on John Howson's Veteran label. The song was also included in 1984 in John Howson's book Songs Sung in Suffolk.

Andy Turner sang Who Owns the Game? as the October 17, 2014 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Fred Whiting sings Who Owns the Game?

Pay attention, you poachers, wherever you be,
Can you answer my question and tell unto me:
Who owns the wild hare that runs over the lea?
With a fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

Now a hare it may feed on a field for a day
And tomorrow quite likely be four fields away;
Yet the landowner tells you, “She's my property,”
And sings fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

And a pheasant may feed on a stubble nearby,
He'll fill up his crop and away he will fly.
Then he'll roost for the night in another man's tree,
With a fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

Now I say they're wild, but the law don't agree,
And if I got caught poaching then fined I should be;
But I'll just take my chance for a dinner that's free,
And sing fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

My grandfather killed a pheasant in some parson's fir tree,
And was transported to some country far over the sea.
And he never came back, so my father told me,
With a fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

Now my father picked oakum for months two or three.
They were hard, hungry times for my mother and me;
We lived on pea-soup, and 'taters and dumplings for tea,
And sang fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

“Never you be a poacher,” my mother told me,
“Or locked up like your father you surely will be.”
Her tune changed when l snared a big hare for our tea:
She sang fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

Now the squire calls a shoot and goes off with his gun,
And the pheasants he shoots, he just kills them for fun.
He's got no empty pantry just like you and me,
And sings fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.

I snared my first rabbit before I was nine,
And if ever I'm caught, well, I'll pay up the fine;
And I'll still use my gun for as long as I see,
And sing fal-the-ral, deedle-dal, fal-the-ral-dee.