The magpie (Peter Warlock)

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  • CPDL #22929:     
Editor: Adrian Wall (submitted 2010-12-30).   Score information: A4, 4 pages, 634 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: An arrangement, based on the solo song.
Arranger: Adrian Wall

General Information

Title: The Magpie
Composer: Peter Warlock

Number of voices: 8vv   Voicing: SSAATTBB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1924

Description: A Norfolk roadmender named John Drinkwater sang The Magpie to E J Moeran, saying that he had found the words in an old newspaper and that the tune had just come to him. Moeran notated it and later showed it to Peter Warlock, who made an arrangement for voice (or unison choir) and piano. It transpired that the words were actually from a music hall act, The Mohawk Mistrels; copyright permission was refused. Hal Collins, who lived with Moeran and Warlock at Eynsford, Kent, wrote a new text, Yarmouth Fair, to fit Warlock's arrangement, published in 1924. A version with the original text was published in 1989.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

I lingered near a cottage door,
And the magpie said "Come in!"
The door was open, I went in
And I saw standing there
A maiden with a dimpled chin
A-combing her black hair.
A sweet surprise was in her eyes,
But still she did not frown,
But even smiled, the pretty child,
And the magpie said "Sit down!"

I sat down in her father's chair
And the magpie said "Kiss her!"
And yet the maiden didn't speak
Which made me think "I will!"
For as the red rushed to her cheek
She looked more lovely still.
But when in haste I clasped her waist
She screamed out "No! No! No!"
But 'twas so nice I kissed her twice
And the magpie said "Bravo!"

Her father then came rushing in,
And the magpie said "Get out!"
Her father's voice was like a rasp
And swearing he began
And I experienced the grasp,
The grasp of an honest man.
He rained such blows upon my clothes
I feel them to this day;
He kicked me too as out I flew,
And the magpie said "Hooray!"