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The Cock / Pretty Cock / As I Stood under My Love’s Window

[ Roud 21234 ; Ballad Index DTnitevi ; VWML HAM/4/22/23 ; trad.]

Louis Killen sang this night-visiting song in 1965 on his first Topic LP Ballads and Broadsides. This track was also included on the CD reissue of the anthology The Bird in the Bush. Angela Carter commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

This frank and warm-hearted love-song is one of the well-known group of “night visiting songs”. As in may of these songs, and in the aubades of the troubadour poets of the middle ages, the crowing of the cock signals the passing of time and the parting of the lovers. In some of this song's relations, notably the ballad The Grey Cock, cock-crow has a supernatural significance; it summons a dead lover back to his grave after a last night with a living true love. But here, it breaks the embraces of earthly lovers and the young man trudges off over the cold fields, thinking ruefully of his girl in her snug bed.

Hammond found sets of this song in Dorset, one of which is printed in A Dorset Book of Folk Songs, Brocklebank and Kindersley, London 1948 [as O Once I Loved a Lass].

John Goodluck sang The Cock in 1977 on his Traditional Sound Recordings album Monday's Childe. He commented in his sleeve notes:

Cockerels have never been reliable time measuring devices, as this song recounts. The young man's downfall is due to the full moon and a premature cockcrow, and we are left feeling quite sorry for him as he sets out on the lonely road home.

Louis Killen also sang The Cock in 1989 on his cassette The Rose in June. He wrote in the sleeve notes that he learned the song from Brian Ballinger in Oxford.

Annie Winter sang The Pretty Cock at Royal Oak Folk Lewes on May 20, 2010, giving Louis Killen as her source:

Jon Boden sang Pretty Cock / As I Stood under My Love’s Window as the July 9, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Andy Turner learned this song as The Light of the Moon from Dave Townsend and the Mellstock Band (with whom he sang it on their 1995 album Songs of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex). He sang it as the June 16, 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. The song itself was collected from Robert Barratt of Piddletown, Dorset, by Henry Hammond in June 1906.

Lyrics

Louis Killen sings The Cock

As I stood under my love's window one night,
I cried so shrill, as shrill, as shrill, as shrill indeed.
My love she arose and put on her clothes
And come down and let me in.

Now when I beheld my true love's charms,
My heart beat so faint, so very faint, so very faint,
And I gathered her up all in my arms
And carried her off to bed.

Now in the first part of the night
We did sport and play, so pretty play, so pretty play,
And in the second part of the night
Asleep in me arms she lay.

Now my love she had a cock, and a pretty crowing cock,
And it crowed in the morn so very soon, so very soon.
My love, she thought it day and she hastened me away,
But it proved to be the light of the moon.

Now the cock it did crow and the wind it did blow
As I tripped o'er the plain, so very plain, so very plain.
I wished myself back in my true love's arms
And she in a bed again.

And I'll be true to my love as the sun do shine
All over the fallow, fallow, fallow, fallow ground
And if my love ain't true to me as I am to she,
Well, I'd rather she was lost than found.

Acknowledgements

I found the lyrics in the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: The Cock (Killen).