- The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers review – murder on the moors
- The Maid Freed from the Gallows
- Portico prize winner Benjamin Myers: 'Why bother chasing the big publishers?'
- The Gallows Pole | Bluemoose Books
He and his inner circle speak in poetry, even the children: I wish Myers had delved more deeply into these characters. Did no one ever agonise or reflect? Hardly at all, it seems.
In pursuit of an epic folk quality, he uses balladic repetition and scattershot word pairings. Occasionally his similes become almost as tortured as the poor unfortunate Cumbrian. Myers also writes good prose that sharply evokes weather and wildness, and communicates a deep love of the Yorkshire landscape.
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The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers review – murder on the moors
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The Maid Freed from the Gallows
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It has been suggested that the reference to "gold" may not mean actual gold for a bribe, but may instead stand for the symbolic restoration of condemned person's honor, perhaps by proving their innocence, honesty, or fidelity, or the maiden's virginity. In at least one version the reply is: The song is also known as " The Prickly Bush ", a title derived from the oft-used refrain lamenting the maiden's situation by likening it to being caught in a briery bush, which prickles her heart.
Portico prize winner Benjamin Myers: 'Why bother chasing the big publishers?'
In versions carrying this theme, the typical refrain may add:. O the prickly bush, the prickly bush, It pricked my heart full sore; If ever I get out of the prickly bush, I'll never get in any more. In some versions, the protagonist is male. This appears to be more prevalent in the United States, where the hanging of women was uncommon. The crime for which the protagonist faces hanging is occasionally mentioned.
The woman may be being held for ransom by pirates, or she has stolen something from her employer. Other instances tell of her having lost a treasured golden ball   or indicate that she is being hanged for fornication. In the Bob Dylan song "Seven Curses", it is not the maiden who is to be hanged but her father, for stealing a stallion. The woman offers to buy her father's freedom from the judge, who responds: The maiden pays the judge's terrible price but wakes the next morning to find that her father has been hanged, anyway. The song may have originated in continental Europe.
Some 50 versions have been reported in Finland,  where it is well known as " Lunastettava neito ". A Lithuanian version has the maid asking relatives to ransom her with their best animals or belongings crown, house, crown, ring, sword, etc. She then regales the judge with 13 curses. With no reference to any curse, it tells a story not very different from those of "Feher Anna" and "Seven Curses".
Cecilia's husband has been condemned to be hanged, and she asks the captain how it is possible to spare his life. The captain promise to save her husband if Cecilia sleeps with him, but in the morning Cecilia sees from the window her man has been hanged. The song is also found in Northern Sami , titled Nieida Kajon sis , which tells a story that strongly resembles the Lithuanian version.
The Gallows Pole | Bluemoose Books
The maid asks her relatives father, mother, brother, sister, and uncle to ransom her with their best belongings or animals horse, cow, sword, crown, and ship. Francis James Child found the English version "defective and distorted", in that, in most cases, the narrative rationale had been lost and only the ransoming sequence remained. Numerous European variants explain the reason for the ransom: