phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Skewbald & piebald

Posted by Lotg on December 06, 2004

In Reply to: Thanks a million Brian Re: Water not wine - source of the lyric? posted by Keith Rennie on December 05, 2004

: : : : Spurred by Goddesses admission that she drinks only wine and not beer [Oz wine's nearly as good as South African], who can help me with the second line of this catchy lyric, the title, date, singer and where I can find the full text? It's one of these frustrating tunes that's been going round in my head, and I haven't been able to locate it: Is it Peter, Paul and Mary?

: : : : Here's the tale of a racehorse
: : : : [Da da da da da]
: : : : He never drank water
: : : : He only drank wine.

: : : : --Keith

: : : South African wine's better than ours? Wow, I'll have to try some. I never have, and while I'm thrilled with what we have to offer, I'm always willing to accept there could be better - but ONLY if I can have some. ---GODDESS

: : Oh, "Stewball" was a racehorse
: : And I wish he were mine
: : He never drank water
: : He only drank wine...

: : It's a pretty standard folk ballad though there are many versions. Peter, Paul, and Mary did a nice rendition of one version.

: : There was apparently a match race between a skewbald horse and a grey mare in Ireland in the 18th century that was the inspiration for the song.

: That was just great. With your tip, I got straight away the PPM lyric and also the quite different Cisco Houston one which I didnt know about. These are quite Americanized versions. If there's an Irish version I'd be interested. Help a lazy man with "skewbald". (I'm still waiting for my OED). Also, what about Oz, GODDESS? (know you'll read this). Lots of Irish influence, any sign of that song there? Hope S African wine travels well, you'll get a taste of the best one day.

: (BTW I dont think this chat is off topic because song and poetry, with their more fixed form, transmit idiom more faithfully than prose and speech. And its great to see how songs mutate as they travel.

Skewbald...

Main Entry: 1skew·bald
Pronunciation: -"bold
Function: adjective
Etymology: skewed (skewbald) + bald
of an animal : marked with patches of white and any other color but black

Piebald...
Main Entry: 1pie·bald
Pronunciation: 'pI-"bold
Function: adjective
1 : of different colors; especially : spotted or blotched with black and white
2 : composed of incongruous parts

Actually, I'm glad you asked cos as a kid who grew up in the bush, we had horses that we called skewbald and piebald, but frankly I never knew the difference. Looking at these two MW definitions, it appears to me that the only difference is that skewbald horses have no black on them.

And yet, when I think back, mum was always very precise about it. She referred to our brown and white patchy horse as skewbald and our black and white patchy horse as piebald - so clearly, though I hate to admit she was right (and I have no intention of telling her) - she knew the difference.

I also notice in that verse that the horse's name was 'stewball', so we don't really know if he was a skewbald horse.

As for Aussie versions. Well possibly, but I must say I've never heard that song. I'll have a look around, you just never know. ---GODDESS