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Whummil Bore

[ Roud 3722 ; Child 27 ; Ballad Index C027 ; trad.]

Maddy Prior sang the Child ballad Whummil Bore on Steeleye Span’s 2006 album, Bloody Men. She commented in the album’s booklet:

I have been fascinated by this ballad for many years, and have thought of it as a fragment, but on further reflection it is the most unique snap-shot of a moment. It tells a massive story in so few words. It also leaves the mystery of many questions. A whummil is a gimlet or piece of drilling equipment and the bore is the hole made by it. Which adds a rather bewitching dimension. Who bored the hole?


Maddy Prior sings Whummil Bore

Seven long years have I served the king
    Long and lonely
And never got sight of his daughter but once
    Lovely one and only

I saw her through a whummil bore
But I never got sight of her no more

Two were putting on her gown
Ten were stitching pins therein

Two were fitting her shoes so neat
And two were buckling them so sweet

Two were combing down her hair
But I never got sight of her no more

Her neck and breast were like the snow
But from the bore I was forced to go