Loreena McKennitt - The Ballad of the Fox Hunter

Lay me on a cushioned chair
Carry me you four
With cushions here and cushions there
To see the world once more
To stable and to kennel go
Bring me what there is to bring
Lead my Lollard to and fro
And gently in a ring

Put the chair upon the grass
Bring Rody and his hounds
That I might contented pass
From these earthly bounds
His eyelids drop, his head falls low
His old eyes cloud with dreams
The sun upon all things that grow
Falls in sleepy streams

Brown Lollard treds upon the lawn
And to the armchair goes
And now the old man's dreams are gone
He smooths his long brown nose
And now moves many a feathered tongue
Upon his wasted hands
For leading aged hounds and young
The huntsman near him stands

And servants round his cushioned place
Are with new sorry wrung
The hounds are gazing on his face
Aged hounds and young
The fire is in the old man's eyes
His fingers move and sway
When the wandering music dies
They hear him feebly say

'Huntsman Rody blow the horn
Make the hills reply'
'I cannot blow upon my horn
I can but weep and sigh'

One blind hound lies apart
On the sun smitten grass
He holds deep commune with his heart
The moments pass and pass
The blind hound with a mournful din
Lifts his wintery head
The servants bear the body in
The hounds wail for the dead

Huntsman Rody blow the horn
Make the hills reply
Huntsman Rody blow the horn
Make the hills reply
Huntsman Rody blow the horn
Make the hills reply
The huntsman loosens on the morn
A gay and mournful cry

music: Loreena McKennitt
lyrics: W.B. Yeats, adapted by Loreena McKennitt
From: Lost Souls (2018).

A live version can be found on Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2019)

Source of the lyrics
The Quinlan Road website
with some minor corrections by me based what Loreena sings:
- 2nd stanza, line 5: comma inserted
- 3rd stanza, line 4: "smooths" instead of "smoothes" (see also links to originals below)
- 4th stanza, lines 1, 3 and 5: first words added; line 5: first word removed
- 6th stanza (the penultimate stanza), line 3: "with" instead of "in" (see also links to originals below) *
- one comma and three period removed, as the lyrics has no punctuation
*) Note on stanza 6, line 3: lyrics have "deep commune", as in the original poem, but it is not possible to understand what actually Loreena sings here (maybe she skips "deep"?) [thanks to Aaron Karmelk for help with this].

Original version of the poem by W.B. Yeats can be found, e.g., here and here

Song Notes by Loreena

Not only have I always had a dog, I have spent much time marvelling at the special and unique relationships shared by many different species. This poem by W.B. Yeats, which I set to music somewhere in the late 1980s, seems to capture some of that special connection.
Copied from the Quinlan Road website

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created: 9 June 2018
last modified: 11 January 2020