The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Blow thi hornne hunter
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Blow thi hornne hunter and blow thi horne on hye
ther ys a do In yonder wode in faith she woll not dy
now blow thi hornne hunter
and blow thi hornne Ioly hunter.
Sore this dere strykyn ys. and yes she bledes no whytt. 5
she lay so fayre. I cowde nott mys. lord I was glad of it.
As I stod vnder a bank: there dere shoffe on the mede.
I stroke her so that downe she sanke. but yet she was not dede.
There she gothe se ye nott. how she gothe ouer the playne.
And yf ye lust to have ashott. I warrant her barrayne. 10
He to go and I to go: But he ran fast afore.
I bad hym shott and strik the do: for I myght shott no mere.
To the couert bothe thay went. for I fownd wher she lay.
An arrow in her hanch she hent. for faynte she myght nott bray.
I was wery of the game. I went to tavern to drynk. 15
now the construccyon of the same: what do yow meane or thynk.
Here I leue and mak an end. now of this hunters lore.
I thynk his bow. ys well vnbent: hys bolt may fle no more.
This lyric deals with love’s pursuit, and it exploits and draws attention to the double-entendre of the forester songs as a whole (see ll. 29–30)—a tendency that sees subtler but more popular exemplification in Wyatt’s “Whoso list to hunt,” its Petrarchan source, and its contemporary metaphoric analogues. An unusual element is the role of the speaker/guide which, though seemingly traditional, borders on pandering. Akin to Cornish’s “Yow and I and amyas” (H 35), this lyric tells a story, perhaps in summation of one of the many entertainments of the day which drew on the forester theme. For a possible venue (Cornish’s play of 15 June 1522), see the commentary to Cooper’s “I haue bene a foster” (H 47), as well as the unattributed “I am a joly foster” (H 50).
- 3 do Doe, a deer, a female deer.
- 8 no whytt Not at all.
- 12 shoffe Shoved, pushed her way forward. mede Meadow.
- 18 barrayne Barren, not bearing, not pregnant at the usual season (OED “barren” a 2.a); i.e. good eating (Stevens M&P 401).
- 21 I myght shott no mere Cf. similar sentiments in Cooper’s “I haue bene a foster” (H 47), in H.
- 23 couert Cover, that which serves for concealment, protection, or shelter (OED n 2.a).
- 26 faynte Faintness.
- 29 construccyon The construing, explaining, or interpreting of a text or statement (OED “construction” 7, 8); cf., also, the similar strategy in urging an interpretation other than a literal one employed by Skelton in his Bowge of Courte, “constrewe ye what is the resydewe” (l. 539).
- 30 meane Imagine, have in mind.
The first stanza of “Blow thi hornne hunter” is through-set for three voices, with the remaining text underlaid. Music is provided for the burden only; the lyrics may have been sung to a well-known tune (Stevens M&P 127–28, 399), as with “Grene growith the holy” (H 27), “Hey nony nony nony nony no” (H 26), “Whilles lyue or breth is in my brest” (H 43), and “Yow and I and amyas” (H 35).
“Blow thi hornne hunter” is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 3199.8, Ringler MS TM1455, and Crum B463. It is reprinted in Chappell Music 1.39–40, Flügel Anglia 262, 238–39, Flügel Neuengl 152, Stafford Antiqua 1.31, Stevens M&P 400–401, and Stevens MCH8 29.
H1,2,3 (ff. 39v–40r, ll.1–6 H2,3), LR58 (f. 7v, ll.1–6).
- 3 substitute in yonder wode there lyeth a doo LR58
- 5 now] wow H3, and LR58; hunter] omit H2,3
- This seems an unusual element, but this nature of the forester figure is echoed elsewhere; cf. the situation of “As I walked by a forest side” (Dyboski, Songs, Carols #87; also in OxHill), wherein the speaker is urged into the metaphoric hunt, which is then led for him. Cf. also a note to “I louers had, had words been true” (#39 in the anonymous Riddles of Heraclitus and Democritus) wherein, out of obvious context, is stated “Venison hath many louers. The hunters reioice when the dogs kill it, and commonly the foster or keeper is the chiefe murderer. The graue is made of pasticrust: and for sheere loue we take out the corse and eate it.”