Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Old Man And His Wife


There was an old man who lived in the woods
Way down in Bungaree
Who swore he could do more work in a day
Than his wife could do in three
"If that is so", the old woman said,
"Then this you will allow
Tomorrow you'll stay at home in my stead
And I'll go and drive the plough".

But you must milk Tidy the cow
For fear that she go dry
And you must feed the little pigs
That are within the sty
And you must mind the speckled hen
For fear she lays astray
And you must wind the spool of yarn
That I spun yesterday.

The old woman took a staff in her hand
And went to mind the plough
The old man took a pail in her hand
And went to milk the cow.
But Tidy hinched and Tidy flinched
And Tidy broke his nose
And Tidy gave him such a blow
That the blood ran down to his toes.

"Hi Tidy Hi, Ho Tidy Ho
Tidy stand you still
If ever I milk you Tidy again
It'll be against my will"
He went to feed the little pigs
That were within the sty
He hit his head against the beam
That made the blood to fly.

He went to mind the speckled hen
For fear she'd lay astray
But he forgot the spool of yarn
His wife spun yesterday
So he swore by the sun, the moon and the stars
He'd never more rule his wife
Nor grumble if she ever did
Another day's work in her life.

From Therese Radic's Songs of Australian Working Life, 1989, Greenhouse Publications.  With the following endnote:

A song from my grandmother's and my mother's repertoire.  The song is found in Britain and America but was sung in Australia with the place name of the first verse localised.  My grandmother, JEssie MacIntyre de Mamiel Wise, learnt the song in the Howlong district of the Riverina in the late 1870s.

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