The Ballad of The Bunty Shoe

Folks:

In looking for some other prose, I came across this fine Pine Barrens ballad written in 1916 and thought I would share it with you. In some ways, it reads like a modern-day country-and-western song, but I think you will enjoy the localisms contained within it.

THE BUNTY* SHOE

(A Ballad of the New Jersey Pine Barrens)

“O Husband, Husband, yours the sin
That spake unkindlily;
I’ve gone with him that loved me well:
Ye need not seek for me!”

The lamp was lit, the lamp was out,
The cook-stove only glowed;
The gun was gone that I might have
To bear along the road.

With a hundred houses in the town,
The town where I was born,
There was none could look upon my face,
And ever give me scorn!

The road ran right, the road ran left,
As sure as sure could be;
’Twas twenty miles to Philadelphia,
And fifty to the sea.

And thrice I looked unto the left,
And thrice unto the right;
And thrice upon the written word
That bid me to the night.

And thrice I spat into my hand
And struck the spittle free;
And thrice the Devil’s compass said
The road that led to sea.

The first house was my own house,
The house where I was born;
I have drawn the coals unto the floor,
That none shall give me scorn.

The second house was the landlord’s house,
I have tossed him in the key;
And a hundred dollars in good green money
To set the mortgage free.

’Tis a hundred dollars in good green money,
And well bespent, said he;
’Tis a hundred dollars in good green money
And now I let ye free;
’Tis a hundred dollars in good green money
And will ye drink with me?

I’ll not come in to ye, landlord,
This bitter night and frore;
A good warm fire and a good good-even;
Go in and bar the door!

The third house was the blacksmith’s house,
The fallow land thereby;
Beside the forge stood English George;
I knew he would not lie.

A hundred dollars in good green money
Of my Uncle Sam’s decree
If ye may name the bog-bred thief
That stole my gun from me!

He has never looked up from the bellows-rod
Beside the anvil-tree;
He has taken the red bar in the tongs
And made the sparkles flee;
Get thee to Hell! cries English George;
I’ll punch the head of thee!

We’ll see to that, O English George,
There’s other work in hand;
The road may run the length of Hell,
But not at thy command;

We’ll see to that when I come back,
Ye bearded chimpanzee;
We'll see to that when I come back
From jail or gallows-tree!

Beside the forge stood English George,
Nor left the anvil-side;
When thou come back, cried English George;
Thank God he had not lied!

Good time, good time, when I come back
To play at fall and stand;
There’s plenty time ’twixt now and then,
And other work in hand;
. . .Three miles along macadam road,
And then I struck the sand.

The first mile was a red mile,
The fire burnt fair and free;
O red red cheeks of the false woman
To burn the heart in me!

The second mile was a yellow mile,
The fire went mad with glee;
O yellow hair of the false false woman
To burn the soul in me!

The third mile was a black mile,
As black as char could be;
O black black heart of the false villain
That stole my love from me!

It’s forty-seven mile to Tuckerton Town,
The road runs trim and true;
And never the track but the track of a horse
That wears a bunty shoe!

O silver-tongued lawyer of Tuckerton Town,
To think you could me fool!
I saw the track of the bunty shoe
On every frozen pool!

’Tis a long long road to Tuckerton Town
By sandway, swamp and spung;
And here’s the track of the bunty shoe,
And here’s the steaming dung;

And here’s an empty cracker-box
And here’s a crust of bread;
And here’s a comb with a broken tooth
That came from my wife’s head.

And it’s plod and plod the long sand road
To Tuckerton by the sea;
And it’s yet I’ll slit the silver tongue
That won my love from me!

And it’s plod and plod the long sand road
Between the blasted pine;
And the mackerel cloud comes over the moon,
And it’s, Hear the sea-wind whine;
And the snow comes down by hour and hour
Till it’s, Mind the wagon-line!

The snow comes down, the snow comes fast,
From Ong’s to Woodmansie;
There’s never a track in the long sand road
Could ever a lawyer see!

The snow comes down, the snow comes fast,
The snow comes to the knee;
And never a track for that man’s eye,
Only a man’s like me.

The sea-wind whips, the sea-wind grips,
The sea-wind keeps me true;
For none may see the little hook-tracks,
Nor yet the tire-tracks two;
O woe unto the little horse
That wears the bunty shoe!

The night wears on, the morning comes,
The left eye’s frozen sealed;
And where away are the green green hills
That lead to Munion Field?

O where away are the green green hills
That Summer joys to know?
The bearberry bush and the dwarf pine
Are mounded under snow.

The first hill was a gravel hill
Unto the county stone;
There was no other in any man’s eye
Save this one hill alone.

The second hill is a sand hill
To tease me as I go;
A half foot of the hoofturned sand,
Three foot of tumbled snow.

The third hill is a sand hill,
A cruel hill and true;
And there lies the little horse
That wears the bunty shoe.

O silver-tongued lawyer of Tuckerton Town,
How is’t ye do not shoot?
Ye have taken my honor, ye have taken my wife,
Ye have taken my gun to boot!

O silver-tongued lawyer of Tuckerton Town,
How is’t ye do not speak?
The tongue that saved the many man’s neck,
It will not even creak;
The tear that sprung to the least man’s dollar
Is frozen on your cheek!

O golden-haired woman of Wescoat Town,
What shall ye say to me?
’Tis twenty mile to Tuckerton Town
And five to Woodmansie;
Shall I lay ye deep in the snow and the sand
Where never man shall see?

O husband, husband, mine the sin
That wrought so woefully;
The waxen man that sits here dead,
He swore of love to me;
O husband mine, I craved that word
I never heard from ye!

O a tongue’s a tongue, and a hand’s a hand,
And the tongue that man had he
And the tongue’s love and the hand’s love,
Which bids the other love flee?

O husband, husband, mine the sin;
What made ye come to me?
Ye may kill me once, ye may kill me twice,
But swear ye once loved me!

I loved you once, I loved you twice,
As any man could see;
Come tell me now, or ever ye pass,
What have ye done to me?

O, he told me his love the first hour,
As sweet as sweet could be;
He told me his love the second hour,
With a word of less degree;

He told me his love the next hour,
That swore to love ye true;
And sore he beat the little horse
That wears the bunty shoe.

The snow came down the next hour,
As cold as cold could be;
Save only the blood of the silver-tongued lawyer
That took my cloak from me!

I called on him the next hour,
I knew that he would die;
The blood in him was frozen half
Or ever the snow-filled sky.

O husband, husband, mine the sin!
’Twas then I loved ye true;
Forgive, forgive, as God forgives,
And take me home with you!

There’s no home above our head,
O woman fair and free;
There’s no home above our head
From Wescoat to the sea!

O husband, husband, mine the sin
That wrought such bitter rue;
By roof or sky, until I die,
I’ll naught but follow you!

O, the silver-tongued lawyer of Tuckerton Town,
I have pitched him in the snow;
For the little red horse with the bunty shoe,
He will no longer go;

I have taken my wife in my arms again
The way to Woodmansie;
Five long long miles by snow and sand,
— Five days she sat by me.

I’ve a hundred dollars in good green money.
I’ve a hundred and fifty-three;
If the lawyer lies on Munion Hill
I have not gone to see;
The wife, by God, for all her faults,
Was better stuff than he!

Contemporary Verse by James E. Richardson

Transcribe from William Stanley Braithwaite, editor, Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1917 and Yearbook of American Poetry. Small, Maynard & Company, Publishers, Boston, Massachusetts, pages 49-57.

*Bunty is a slang term or idiomatic expression meaning “short and stumpy;” hence, the horseshoe was too short and not properly fit to the horse’s hoof.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Spung-Man

Explorer
Jan 5, 2009
932
575
62
Richland, NJ
loki.stockton.edu
wander oer' the spung!

Nice find, Jerseyman,

I never heard of this character before, so you compelled me to do a quick Google search to find out more! It seems that James E. Richardson was, like a number of his contemporary poets, a scientist by training. He studied at the Academy of Natural Sciences and obtained a membership in the Philadelphia Mineralogical Society at the institution. Born in Philadelphia in 1875, he wrote about 50 poems. In later years Richardson became a busy businessman, leaving him little time to write poetry.

FYI. There is renewed interest in things South Jersey at the Richard Stockton College, marked with a special literature exhibition at their library titled Pages from the Pines.

http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page.cfm?siteID=69&pageID=344

I wonder if the poet had ever done scientific fieldwork within a Pinelands context?

Spung-Man
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
That's quite a piece of work, Jerseyman. Thanks a lot for transcribing it. As for setting it to music, it would be a player with the blood of bards in his veins who could remember that whole epic :).

So... where is Munyon Hill?
 

gipsie

Explorer
Sep 14, 2008
521
25
53
atlantic county
Very cool...

Good question on Munyon Hill. I would be curious to see that myself.

I know that Bass River has Munion Field Rd....could be a relation?

They say 20 to Philly in the beginning and 50 to the sea. Wharton is about 35 to the sea and 15 to Philly and Bass River is way closer to the ocean..... Where could it be...?
 

MarkBNJ

Piney
Jun 17, 2007
1,875
70
Long Valley, NJ
www.markbetz.net
Munion Field was/is here......not quite sure about Munion Hill. But, just above the letters "ion" on this map the elevation climbs fairly well and the old road cuts right through it.

http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.663658364644654&lng=-74.39344882965088&z=15&type=topo&gpx=

turtle

It's kind of flat from the crossing at Munion Field north. But Munion Field Rd. does dip when it crosses the Mill Branch, and then climbs back up to the crossing... so maybe they perceived that as a hill?
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
What a great piece!! It's length and ballad meter are indictive of traditional european ballads. This form became commonplace in american ballads as europeans settled in this country. Ballads were not always accompanied by an instrument, it would seem that creating a vocal melody for the ballad was probably a means to remember the text and content more accurately.

By 1916 ragtime, blues and jazz were popular and often progressions and modulations common to these forms worked their way into the folk compositions of rural america. All of these elements can be found in traditional folk music of the appalachians.

I really suspect this might have been done in the most traditional sense (without jazz, ragtime, or blues influence) because the length is just too long to be applied to those structures. I would guess this was sung with a simple, memorable, vocal melody without accompaniment.

JM, any idea who the author was? I would bet it was someone with a fondness for traditional poetry.

Jeff
 
What a great piece!! It's length and ballad meter are indictive of traditional european ballads. This form became commonplace in american ballads as europeans settled in this country. Ballads were not always accompanied by an instrument, it would seem that creating a vocal melody for the ballad was probably a means to remember the text and content more accurately.

By 1916 ragtime, blues and jazz were popular and often progressions and modulations common to these forms worked their way into the folk compositions of rural america. All of these elements can be found in traditional folk music of the appalachians.

I really suspect this might have been done in the most traditional sense (without jazz, ragtime, or blues influence) because the length is just too long to be applied to those structures.

JM, any idea who the author was? I would bet it was someone with education in traditional poetry.

Jeff

Jeff:

See the post from Spungman in this thread for information on the author. I sat here this afternoon and sang this ballad to myself using a tune somewhat similar to the theme of “Gilligan’s Island” and it seemed to work fairly well (trust me—I made sure no one else was around!!!!). I also tried to use the tune to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” but without success. Do you have any thoughts about writing a score for this ballad? That would be awesome!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
Very cool...

Good question on Munyon Hill. I would be curious to see that myself.

I know that Bass River has Munion Field Rd....could be a relation?

They say 20 to Philly in the beginning and 50 to the sea. Wharton is about 35 to the sea and 15 to Philly and Bass River is way closer to the ocean..... Where could it be...?

I wouldn't take the measurments too seriously, 15 to philly and 35 to the sea doesn't translate well to music. Try singing it....see, 20 and 50 work better.
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,334
2,573
Pines; Bamber area

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
Jeff:

I sat here this afternoon and sang this ballad to myself using a tune somewhat similar to the theme of “Gilligan’s Island” and it seemed to work fairly well (trust me—I made sure no one else was around!!!!). I also tried to use the tune to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” but without success. Do you have any thoughts about writing a score for this ballad? That would be awesome!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman

Sure, just as soon as I get the Gilligan's Island theme out of my head.:) I'll try to give it a shot (time permitting).
 
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