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    Johnny o Cockley's Well

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Johnie o Cockley’s Well 

(Child #114)  Traditional, arranged and adapted by Andrew Calhoun, recorded on Rhymer's Tower: Ballads of the Anglo-Scottish Border. 

Johnie rose on a May morning, 

Sought water to wash his hands, 
                 F                  Dm 
And he’s called for his hunting hounds 
                               Am   Dm     Am 
That were bound in iron bands, bands 
                 F             Am  Dm 
That were bound in iron bands. 

Johnie has readied his good bent bow, 
Likewise his arrows keen, 
He stripped himself o the scarlet red 
Put on the Lincoln green. 

Johnie’s mother got word o that 
And a woeful woman was she; 
“I beg you stay at home, my son,
I pray be ruled by me. 

“It's we have plenty of good brown bread, 
And plenty of blood red wine; 
Johnie go not to yon greenwood 
For to hunt your venison. 

“There are seven o the King’s foresters 
At Pickeram Side do dwell,
And for a drop of thy heart’s blood 
They would ride the fords of hell.” 

But Johnie has made a solemn vow 
Between the sun and the moon, 
And he's away to the good greenwood 
To hunt the dun deer down. 

He looked to the east & he looked to the west 
And in below the sun, 
And there he spied the king’s dun deer 
Was cropping a bush o broom 

Johnie shot, the dun deer leapt 
And she leapt wondrous wide, 
Until they came to the wan water 
Where his hounds they stemmed her pride. 

Johnie’s handled the deer so well, 
That he’s had out the liver and lungs, 
With these he feasted his good blood hounds 
As if they’d been earl’s sons. 

They ate so much o the venison, 
And drank so much o the blood, 
That Johnie and his good blood-hounds 
Fell asleep by yon green wood 

Then by there came a grey-headed man 
And a sorry old man was he; 
And he’s away to Pickeram Side 
For to tell what he did see. 

“As I came in by Brady’s Lee 
Among the brambly scrogs, 
The fairest youth I e’er did see 
Lay sleeping between his dogs. 

“The shirt that he wore on his back 
Was of the holland fine 
The doublet he wore over that 
Was of the Lincoln twine. 

“The buttons he wore on his sleeve 
Were of the gold so good 
The hunting hounds he lay between 
Their mouths were dyed with blood.” 

Out then spoke one, out then spoke two 
Out then spoke two or three: 
“If this be Johnny o Cockley’s Well, 
This youth we’ll go and see.” 

They rode out to Brady’s Lee, 
And in among the scrogs, 
They spied Johnie o Cockley’s Well 
A-sleepin between his dogs. 

The first arrows that they fired at him 
They wounded him on the thigh; 
The second flight they fired at him 
Heart’s blood did blind his eye. 

When Johnie rose out from his sleep 
An angry man was he; 
Says “Ye might have asked if I’d be taken 
Before that ye fired on me.” 

“The wildest wolf in all the wood 
Would have sprinkled wan water over me. 
If I would not have waked for that. 
She’d have gone and let me be” 

He planted his back against an oak 
His foot against a stone, 
And he’s fired on the king’s foresters 
And killed them all but one. 

Then he broke three ribs o that man’s side 
Likewise his collar bone, 
And he cast him sideways over a steed 
To carry the tidings home. 

“Is there not a bird in yon green wood 
Can sing as I can say? 
Could fly in to my mother’s bower, 
Bid her kiss me and fetch me away.”