Archive for category Other

Quarry Jack (A folk song)

by James Edwards-Smallbone

Young Tom was a’wanting of granite and slate,
(For to build his young lady and babby a haim)
So up to the quarry he made his way straight.
(With his pick and his sack and his lantern aflame).
But up on the moor when the night’s bright and clear,
(When the beams of the moon hit the glint of the stone)
Tis often the time Quarry Jack may appear.
(And pity the man who would face him alone).

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

Now Tom was a strong lad, all ruddy and bright,
(With hardness of muscle and quickness of brain)
And not a young man to take eas’ly afright.
(So his young lady’s warnings were given in vain)
So up to the quarry with whistling and cheer,
(A blazing bright lantern a’lighting the way)
He tramped, sure that Quarry Jack ne’er would appear.
(To work at the rockface ’til breaking of day)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

He worked like a mule ’til the striking of two,
(With dust on his fingers and sweat on his face)
Then stopped for a flagon of well-deserved brew.
(At ease from a quarryman’s punishing pace).
But just as he set a fresh tallow alight,
(The glow from the lantern grown brighter and fierce)
Upon his young eyes fell a terrible sight.
(And even Tom’s stout constitution was pierced.)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

There stood a fey sprite up above on the heath,
(With skin all a’sparkle like micah and quartz)
All gurning and grinning and showing his teeth.
(A’smile as if mischief was filling his thoughts)
Young Tom started up with his pick in his hand,
(A’meaning thereby to protect his night’s work)
And made his way hence t’where the piskie did stand.
(A’lighting his way through the night’s darkling murk.

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

“Well met my fine fellow!” The faerie did say,
(With a voice like the jangling of bells in the breeze)
“You are working exceedingly hard this night’s day.”
(And the chill in that voice near made Tom’s warm blood freeze)
“Your stonecutting woke me, for I was asleep”
(He said with a stretch and a cavernous yawn)
“You made quite a din when you drove your pick deep!”
(And he took a deep draught from a fine drinking horn)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

“I’m sorry” said Tom “for disturbing your rest”,
(And lifted his hand to his forelock with grace)
“But I need building stone, and this pit has the best.”
(He gestured below to the pit’s cutting face)
“I agree that this stone is exceedingly fine”
(The piskie replied with a grizzly grin)
“But I brand you as thief for this quarry is mine!”
(He cried, like a preacher condemning a sin)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

“Forgive me kind sir, for I was not aware,”
(Said Tom, as he made to recant his offence)
“That t’was granite of yours I was quarrying there.”
(And he asked how he best could provide recompense)
The sprite simply leered in reply, eyes a’fire
(As baleful a glare as you ever did see)
“I shall give you more stone than you e’er could desire.”
(And he stamped his left foot on the ground, three times three)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

Then under Tom’s feet the ground cracked and rent,
(In obedience to Quarry Jack’s unearthly knock)
And the clifftop collapsed and down with it Tom went.
(With a wailing of soil and a screaming of rock)
His body was broken and cracked were his bones
(He tumbled and rolled amid boulders and scree)
And none but the moor head Tom’s last long soft moans.
(And offered no pity nor ee’n sympathy)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave him alone,
His wife and his babby want Tom to come home.

They found Tom next day at the foot of the cliff,
(His soul having fled to the breast of the Lord)
And his friends bore him home, the Reeve, Miller and Smith.
(And they laid him to rest in the church by the ford)
They took his death stones and they raised him a cairn.
(And up on the quarry it stands to this day)
But the sight brought no comfort to Tom’s wife and bairn.
(And they hated the Jack who had stole him away)

Oh Quarry Jack, Quarry Jack, leave us alone,
His wife and his babby wish Tom had come home.

Advertisements

2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: