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The Farmer's Old Wife (sussex Whistling Song) Post by :cavatina Category :Poems Author :Unknown Date :May 2011 Read :3948

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The Farmer's Old Wife (sussex Whistling Song)

(This is a countryman's whistling song, and the only one of the kind which we remember to have heard. It is very ancient, and a great favourite. The farmer's wife has an adventure somewhat resembling the hero's in the burlesque version of Don Giovanni. The tune is Lilli burlero, and the song is sung as follows:- the first line of each verse is given as a solo; then the tune is continued by a chorus of whistlers, who whistle that portion of the air which in Lilli burlero would be sung to the words, Lilli burlero bullen a la. The songster then proceeds with the tune, and sings the whole of the verse through, after which the strain is resumed and concluded by the whistlers. The effect, when accompanied by the strong whistles of a group of lusty countrymen, is very striking, and cannot be adequately conveyed by description. This song constitutes the 'traditionary verses' upon which Burns founded his Carle of Killyburn Braes.)


There was an old farmer in Sussex did dwell,

(Chorus of whistlers.)

There was an old farmer in Sussex did dwell,
And he had a bad wife, as many knew well.

(Chorus of whistlers.)

Then Satan came to the old man at the plough, -
'One of your family I must have now.

'It is not your eldest son that I crave,
But it is your old wife, and she I will have.'

'O, welcome! good Satan, with all my heart,
I hope you and she will never more part.'

Now Satan has got the old wife on his back,
And he lugged her along, like a pedlar's pack.

He trudged away till they came to his hall-gate,
Says he, 'Here! take in an old Sussex chap's mate!'

O! then she did kick the young imps about, -
Says one to the other, 'Let's try turn her out.'

She spied thirteen imps all dancing in chains,
She up with her pattens, and beat out their brains.

She knocked the old Satan against the wall, -
'Let's try turn her out, or she'll murder us all!'

Now he's bundled her up on his back amain,
And to her old husband he took her again.

'I have been a tormenter the whole of my life,
But I ne'er was tormenter till I met with your wife.'


(The end)
Anonymous's poem: Farmer's Old Wife (Sussex Whistling Song)

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