A song about ‘the Welsh Robin Hood’ – a story I originally found and borrowed from George Borrow’s Wild Wales. Three traditional tunes for the price of one, but on the whole I think I like the Sheepstealer version best. There’s much more information about Twm (and the song) in my next book, Tears Of Morning.
[Limerick Rake tune]
A man of resource and a thief of ill-fame
Tregaron my home, Twm Siôn Cati my name
Your horses and cattle are all of my game
But rich and respected I’ll die, just the same
Respected I’ll die just the same
In an ironmonger’s shop in Llandovery fair
A fancy I took to a porridge pot there
“Oh”, said the man
“Here are three of the best”
And one I admired above all of the rest
That one above all of the rest
But before I ventured to lay money down
I examined the pot above and around
“Oh no, my good man, this won’t do for me:
There’s a hole in this pot as you plainly may see.”
“There’s a hole in the pot, as you see.”
He peeked in the pot, said “Your pardon I crave,
But no hole can I find, as I hope to be saved.”
I said “Put in your head, and you’ll see it quite plain…”
So he put in his head and tried once again:
He put in his head once again.
But the man had such brains, his head hardly would fit
So I rammed the pot down, meaning but to assist:
The while that he struggled to free himself there
I tiptoed away with the other pair.
I tiptoed away with the pair.
But as I departed, my pots in my hand,
Some advice I gave, as I left him to stand:
“Indeed, there’s a hole, for if there were not,
However could you put your head in the pot?
How could you put your head in the pot?
I’ve considered three ways of setting this to music. The Limerick Rake and the Derry-down-derry tune both work with minimal adaptation, and I have recorded a minimal version of eachhere (you’re welcome!). At the moment, though, I rather like the idea of using a variation on the tune associated with I Am a Brisk Lad (Roud 1667), also known as The Sheepstealer (hence the repeated last line, which is a new addition). It’s a tune closely related to the version of The Holy Well used on the Tears of Morning album as the instrumental introduction to Song of Chivalry.