Keeper, The

DESCRIPTION: "The Keeper would a-hunting go." Keeper goes hunting for a doe. In some versions he chases several unsuccessfully.
AUTHOR: Joseph Martin? (see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1909 (Cecil Sharp collection); reportedly written in the 1680s (see NOTES)
KEYWORDS: hunting animal dialog
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South,West)) US(SE)
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 134, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp-OneHundredEnglishFolksongs 79, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople 52, "The Keeper" (1 text)
Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle, pp. 289-290, "The Keeper" (1 text)
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #6, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #111, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 680, "The Keeper" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 59, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 338, "The Keeper" (1 text)
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, pp. 231, 309, "341, The Keeper" (notes only)
GirlScouts-SingTogether, pp. 74-75, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsNThings, p. 64, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsPopularEdition, p. 21, "The Keeper" (1 text)
National-4HClubSongBook, p. 19, "The Keeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Roy Palmer, _The Folklore of Warwickshire_, Rowman and Littlefield, 1976, p.147, "(The Keeper)" (1 text)

Roud #1519
Pete Seeger, "The Keeper and the Doe" (on PeteSeeger09, PeteSeegerCD02) (on PeteSeeger18)
cf. "En Jaeger Gik At Jage (A Hunter Went Out Hunting)" (general feeling)
The Keeper Would A-Hunting Go
NOTES [183 words]: Most of the song consists of back-and-forth singing of the chorus between two singers. B.J. Orton thinks there is a sexual or magical subtext to this song. I doubt it, myself. -PJS
I have to disagree with Paul; at least one text refers to the Keeper kissing a doe, and another doe "[running] away in a young man's heart." There is surely some sort of hidden meaning. The real question is, how far did Sharp bowdlerize what he found? Based on Palmer, the original was basically clean, but highly suggestive. Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams reports that the Sharp version was sung in the schools in his bowdlerized version. Palmer says that the original was a late seventeenth century broadside "The Huntsman's Delight or The Forester's Pleasure" by Joseph Martin.
Interesting that such a piece would become extremely popular in school and camp songbooks. I suppose it's because of the chance for a musical "conversation." - RBW
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople: "... Baring-Gould ... wrote: 'I have been compelled to rewrite most of the song, which in the original is very gross." - BS
Last updated in version 6.3
File: ShH79

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