The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140894   Message #3240678
Posted By: Lighter
18-Oct-11 - 06:55 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: She Was Poor (Same The Whole World Over)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: She Was Poor (Same The Whole World Over)
The earliest full text to appear seems to be one sent in by Bruce Lancaster of Worcester, Mas.., to "The American Mercury" and published in April, 1926.

It is virtually identical to that published by Sandburg and may well have been his source (though no tune is given).

Lancaster writes,

"Some time ago, I learned the song, 'She was poor but she was honest,' from an inebriate Eli [student at Yale], who in turn learned it from a still more inebriate Limey. The sodden Sassenach told the Eli that this song was a favorite in the Black Watch, and that verses were added from time to time as the War progressed. From a simple ballad, it developed into an epic, dealing with the wandering's of the parson's daughter, who follows the troops all over the world, and in each new billet we are told, 'onst ag'in she lorst 'er nyme.' I have never been able to discover any of the verses dealing with the progress of the unfortunate lady, but the original ballad, as sung by the Black Watch, goes as follows:"

What made the writer or the Eli or the Limey believe this was the original text is probably not knowable. The prominence of the "army chaplain," however, certainly suggests a British army origin, which fits with Disher's recollection.

The English writer A. M. Burrage also connected the song to the time when he was in school, which would have been around 1905.

Can anyone find an early printing of the distinctive melody as part of a different song?