Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Old Betty's Joints

Book Club always throws up some interesting ideas. Contributions ranged from "I wish I'd looked after my teeth" to "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb". My own contribution was Googled during the meeting from a half remembered rhyme that our mother often quoted. All I could recall was "Old Betty's joints are on the rack" but the Google search provided the entire poem, one source suggesting it was penned by Dr. Edward Jenner (1749-1823). This version is from Dartmoor Weather Lore. Enjoy!

The moorland winds begin to blow,
The clouds look black the glass is low,
The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep,
The spiders from their cobwebs creep.

Last night the sun went pale to bed,
The moon in halos hid her head;
The boding shepherd heaves a sigh,
For see a rainbow spans the sky.

The walls are damp, the ditches smell,
Closed is the pink-eyed pimpernel;
Hark! how the chairs and tables crack,
Old Betty's joints are on the rack.

Loud quack the ducks, the peacocks cry,
The distant tors are seeming nigh;
How restless are the snorting swine,
The busy flies disturb the kine (cattle).

Low o'er the moor the swallow wings,
The cricket too, how loud he sings;
Puss on the hearth with velvet paws,
Sits smoothin' o'er her whiskered jaws.

Through the clear leat the fishes rise,
And nimbly catch the incautious flies;
The sheep are seen at early light,
Cropping the meads with eager bite.

Though June, the air is cold and chill,
The mellow blackbird's song is still;
The glow-worms, numerous and bright,
Illumed the dewy goyle last night.

At dusk the squalid toad was seen,
Hopping and crawling o'er the green;
The frog has lost its yellow vest,
And in a dingy suit is dressed.

My dog, so altered by his taste,
Quits mutton bones, on grass to feast;
And see yon rooks, how odd their flight,
The imitate the gliding kite,

Or seem precipitate to fall,
As if they felt the piercing ball.
T'will surely rain! I see with sorrow
We shan't be on the moor tomorrow.

1 comment:

Ian Poulton said...

It's very evocative.

I spent three years at school on the Moor, learning to fight my asthma.