A traditional 'bawdy folk song', most famously released by Fairport Convention on their album The History of Fairport Convention in 1971. It has also been sung by Martin Carthy in various sets during the 1960's, though he prefers the more traditional version, also shown below. The song is not commonly known as a traditional song, but a version of it is sung in Arkansas, harking back to very english folk roots, so it would appear to be a lot older than it seems.
There is a great love of gun imagery in folk music, the ramrod being a word far too loaded with sexual imagery to be left alone. Hunting is also a common theme as in other such famous tunes The Furze Field or Broomfield Hill. Fairport's version has a very peculiar rhythm which makes it very difficult to sing, however, it also leaves you in no doubt of what is going on...
The Bonny Black Hare
On the 14th of May at the dawn of the day,
With me gun on me shoulder to the woods I did stray,
In search of some game, if the weather proved fair,
To see could I get a shot at the bonny black hare.
Oh I met a young girl there with a face as a rose,
And her skin was as fair as the lily that grows.
I says, "Me fair maiden, why ramble you so?
Can you tell me where the bonny black hare did go?"
The answer she gave me, her answer was, "No.
But it's under me apron, they say, if you go.
And if you'll not deceive me, I vow and declare,
We'll both go together to hunt the bonny black hare."
Well I laid this girl down with her face to the sky,
And I took out me ramrod and me bullets likewise.
I said "Lock your legs round me and dig in with your heels,
For the closer we get, the better it feels."
The birds, they were singing in the bushes and trees,
And the song that they sang was, "She's easy to please."
I felt her heart quiver and I knew what I'd done,
Says I, "Have you had enough of me old sporting gun?"
The answer she gave me, her answer was, "Nay.
It's not often young sportsmen like you come this way.
And if your pounder is willing and your bullets play fair.
Why don't you keep firing at the bonny black hare."
"Oh, me pounder is wasted, and me bullets all gone.
Me ramrod is limp, and I cannot fire on.
But I'll be back in the morning and if you are still here,
We'll both go together again to hunt the bonny black hare."
The more traditional version of the song follows a similar plot, but with slightly more lucid words...
One morning in Autumn
by the dawn of the day,
With my gun
in good order I straight took my way.
To hunt for some game to the wood
s I did steer,
To see if I could find
my bonny black hare.
I met a young damsel
, her eyes black as sloe
Her teeth white as ivory
, her cheeks like a rose
Her hair hung in ringlet
s on her shoulders bare.
I cried. "Did you see my bonny black hare?"
"This morning a-hunting I have been all around,
But my bonny black hare is not to be found."
The maid she then answered and at him did stare
"I never yet heard of, or saw, a black hare."
"My gun is in good order, my balls are also,
And under your smock I was told she did go.
So delay me no longer, I cannot stop here,
One shot I will fire at your bonny black hare."
His gun he then loaded
, determined he was,
And instantly laid her down on the green grass.
he drew, his balls he put near,
And fire one shot at her bonny black hare.
Her eyes they did twinkle
and smiling did say,
"How often, dearest sportsman, do you come this way?
There is few in this country can with you compare,
So fire once again at my bonny black hare."
His gun he reload
ed and fired once more,
She cried, "Draw your trigger and never give o'er!
Your powder and balls are so sweet I declare,
Keep shooting away at my bonny black hare!"
He said, "My dear maiden, my powder is all gone,
My gun is out of order, I cannot ram home.
But meet me tomorrow, my darling so fair,
And I'll fire once more at your bonny black hare."
For more bawdy folk songs, see: