Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament

DigiTrad:
HOUSEWIFE'S LAMENT


Related thread:
Lyr Add: Housewife's Lament (O-Roy-O) (10)


Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 10 - 10:09 PM
Melissa 01 Jun 10 - 10:42 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 10 - 10:56 PM
Melissa 01 Jun 10 - 11:01 PM
Melissa 01 Jun 10 - 11:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jun 10 - 01:49 PM
Jim Dixon 04 Jun 10 - 01:27 AM
Joe Offer 04 Jun 10 - 03:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Jun 10 - 04:47 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jun 10 - 05:42 PM
Bill D 04 Jun 10 - 06:08 PM
Sandra in Sydney 05 Jun 10 - 03:47 AM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 10 - 03:42 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jun 10 - 04:51 PM
Joe_F 05 Jun 10 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Marion 08 Nov 10 - 09:48 AM
Stewart 08 Nov 10 - 02:10 PM
Stewart 08 Nov 10 - 02:21 PM
maeve 04 Jun 12 - 07:00 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jun 12 - 03:34 AM
maeve 05 Jun 12 - 06:32 AM
Joe Offer 05 Jun 12 - 09:48 PM
Bill D 05 Jun 12 - 10:08 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jun 12 - 10:19 PM
Acme 07 Jun 12 - 12:48 AM
Susan of DT 07 Jun 12 - 05:23 AM
Deckman 07 Jun 12 - 01:06 PM
Nerd 03 Aug 14 - 12:37 AM
Bill D 03 Aug 14 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Eleanor 11 Nov 15 - 10:21 AM
Joe Offer 07 Jun 17 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 07 Jun 17 - 08:00 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Lyr Add: POOR OLD WOMAN
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 10:09 PM

POOR OLD WOMAN

One day as I wandered I heard a complaining;
I saw an old woman the picture of gloom;
The mud on the doorsteps it was raining,
And this wail as she wielded her broom.

Chorus:
O, life is a toil and love is a trouble;
Beauty will fade and riches will flee;
And prices are doubled and prizes are dwindled,
And nothing is as I could wish it to be.

There's too much worriment goes to a bonnet;
There's too much ironing goes to a shirt;
There's nothing that pays for the time wasted on it;
There's nothing that lasts but trouble and dirt.

Alas, 'twas no dream, for again I behold it.
I yield, I am helpless my fate to avert;
She rolled down her sleeves and her apron she folded,
And lay down and died and was buried in dirt.

Coll. Moss Bluff, Florida.
Alton C. Morris, 1950, Folksongs of Florida, Univ. Florida Press.

I have seen a more coherent version but I can't find it.
The song, "The Old Lady and the Pig," reminded me of it.

Other versions? Probably old, from the UK originally, but I am looking for 'dirt' versions.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 10:42 PM

DT: Housewife's Lament


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 10:56 PM

Much better song, Melissa! Thanks.

But not related.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Housewife's Lament (DT Version)
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 11:01 PM

They look alike to me?!
Please teach me to see the difference..?

Housewife's Lament (DT Version-excerpt)

One day I was walking, I heard a complaining
And saw an old woman the picture of gloom
She gazed at the mud on her doorstep ('twas raining)
And this was her song as she wielded her broom

C C7 E E7 / F D7 G G7 / C - F C / G - G7 C

Life is a trial and love is a trouble
Beauty will fade and riches will flee
Pleasures they dwindle and prices they double
And nothing is as I would wish it to be.

There's too much of worriment goes to a bonnet
There's too much of ironing goes to a shirt
There's nothing that pays for the time you waste on it
There's nothing that lasts us but trouble and dirt.

***

Alas! Twas no dream; ahead I behold it
I see I am helpless my fate to avert
She lay down her broom, her apron she folded
She lay down and died and was buried in dirt.^^^


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 11:30 PM

Q,
I waste a lot of time here..I'm not learning and I want to.
The one thing I have learned here is that too often, honest questions get turned into squabbles or attacks so I'm not likely to learn as much as I'd like.

I see lots of songs mentioned as variations/relatives..and sometimes I don't see how they're hooked. Sometimes the ones I think are very close cousins evidently aren't.

To me, 'Poor Old Woman' and 'Housewife's Lament' look very closely related--and although these two really aren't of earthshattering consequence to my education, I really would like to know how to tell they've never met.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 01:49 PM

Melissa, when I searched mudcat, here is the song I came up with (just part, since Jim Dixon posted it all).

Housewife's Lament (O-Roy-O)

Come and listen, let me tell you about my darling Andy,
He's tall and fair and slightly randy;
At drinking porter he is quite handy [CLAP, CLAP, CLAP]
He loves me like a devil on a Sunday!

Cho.-
O-roy-o and a diddle-lum dandy,
I want a man who can tickle my fancy,
etc.,
Thread 107067 (moved to 2740)
Housewife's Lament

Seems to me there is a slight difference.

OK, OK, there are several songs with that title and I found the wrong one when I looked in Mudcat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD: The Housekeeper's Tragedy (Eliza S Turner)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 01:27 AM

From Arthur's Lady's Home Magazine, Volume 37 (Philadelphia: T. S. Arthur & Sons, April, 1871), page 241:

THE HOUSEKEEPER'S TRAGEDY.
(Eliza S Turner)

[The following poem, which we clip from an exchange, will, we have reason to believe, be appreciated by all practical housekeepers:]

1. One day, as I wandered, I heard a complaining,
And saw a poor woman, the picture of gloom;
She glared at the mud on the door-step ('twas raining),
And this was her wail as she wielded her broom:

2. "Oh! life is a toil, and love is a trouble,
And beauty will fade, and riches will flee,
And pleasures they dwindle and prices they double,
And nothing is what I could wish it to be.

3. "There's too much of worriment goes to a bonnet,
There's too much of ironing goes to a shirt;
There's nothing that pays for the time you waste on it,
There's nothing that lasts us but trouble and dirt.

4. "In March it is muddy, it's slush in December,
The midsummer breezes are loaded with dust,
In fall the leaves litter, in muggy September
The wall paper rots and the candlesticks rust.

5. "There are worms in the cherries, and slugs in the roses,
And ants in the sugar, and mice in the pies—
The rubbish of spiders no mortal supposes,
And ravaging roaches and damaging flies.

6. "It's sweeping at six, and it's dusting at seven;
It's victuals at eight, and it's dishes at nine;
It's plotting and planning from ten to eleven;
We scarce break our fast ere we plan how to dine.

7. "With grease and with grime, from corner to centre,
Forever at war and forever alert,
No rest for the day, lest the enemy enter—
To spend my whole life in a struggle with dirt.

8. "Last night in my dream I was stationed forever
On a little bare isle in the midst of the sea;
My one chance of life was a ceaseless endeavor
To sweep off the waves ere they swept off poor me.

9. "Alas! 'twas no dream—again I beheld it!
I yield, I am helpless my fate to avert."
She rolled down her sleeves, her apron she folded,
Then laid down and died, and was buried in dirt.

[The almost identical text appeared in Locomotive Engineers' Journal, Volume 6, No. 7 (Cleveland, Ohio: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, July, 1872), page 310, but with the following notation:

"From Eliza Sproat Turner's Out-of-Door Rhymes."
(also at Google Books)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 03:50 PM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Housewife's Lament, The

    DESCRIPTION: The housewife complains of her never-ending war against dirt: "Oh life is a toil and love is a trouble, Beauties will fade and riches will flee, Pleasures they dwindle and prices they double...." At last she dies "and was buried in dirt."
    AUTHOR: probably Eliza Sproat Turner (see NOTES)
    EARLIEST DATE: 1871 (Arthur's Lady's Home Magazine," Volume 37)
    KEYWORDS: work wife lament death burial dream
    FOUND IN: US(MA,MW,SE)
    REFERENCES (7 citations):
    BrownIII 312, "A Housekeeper's Tragedy" (1 text plus an excerpt)
    BrownSchinhanV 312, "A Housekeeper's Tragedy" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
    Morris, #110, "Poor Old Woman" (1 text)
    FSCatskills 97, "Life Is a Toil" (2 texts, 1 tune)
    Lomax-FSNA 67, "The Housewife's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 184, "The Housewife's Lament" (1 text)
    DT, HSEWFLAM

    Roud #5472
    RECORDINGS:
    Loman D. Cansler, "The Housekeeper's Complaint" (on Cansler1)
    NOTES: Earlier editions of the Index listed this as by H. A. Fletcher, which a question mark; I am no longer sure where I found this information. Jim Dixon gives what seems much more likely to be accurate information:
    "THE HOUSEWIFE'S LAMENT [your title] was written as a poem titled A HOUSEKEEPER'S TRAGEDY by Eliza Sproat Turner. It appeared in her book Out-of-Door Rhymes (Boston, J. R. Osgood & Comp., 1872; reprinted Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1903). The latter edition can be seen at Google Books...
    "The earliest printing I can find was in Arthur's Lady's Home Magazine, Volume 37 (Philadelphia: T. S. Arthur & Sons, April, 1871 [also on Google Books]), page 241, where it appears without attribution:
    "A year later, it appeared in Locomotive Engineers' Journal, Volume 6, No. 7 (Cleveland, Ohio: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, July, 1872 [once again on Google Books]), page 310, with the correct attribution:
    "I don't know who set it to music, or when." - (RBW)
    Last updated in version 4.1
    File: FSC097

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Song List

    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Lyrics from the Digital Tradition:

HOUSEWIFE'S LAMENT

(G) C - F C / G - G7 C / C - F C / G - G7 C

One day I was walking, I heard a complaining
And saw an old woman the picture of gloom
She gazed at the mud on her doorstep ('twas raining)
And this was her song as she wielded her broom

C C7 E E7 / F D7 G G7 / C - F C / G - G7 C

Life is a trial and love is a trouble
Beauty will fade and riches will flee
Pleasures they dwindle and prices they double
And nothing is as I would wish it to be.

There's too much of worriment goes to a bonnet
There's too much of ironing goes to a shirt
There's nothing that pays for the time you waste on it
There's nothing that last us but trouble and dirt.

CHORUS

In March it is mud, it is slush in December
The midsummer breezes are loaded with dust
In fall the leaves litter, in muddy September
The wall paper rots and the candlesticks rust

CHORUS

There are worms on the cherries and slugs on the roses
And ants in the sugar and mice in the pies
The rubbish of spiders no mortal supposes
And ravaging roaches and damaging flies

CHORUS

It's sweeping at six and it's dusting at seven
It's victuals at eight and it's dishes at nine
It's potting and panning form ten to eleven
We scarce break our fast till we plan how to dine

CHORUS

With grease and with grime from corner to center
Forever at war and forever alert
No rest for a day lest the enemy enter
I spend my whole life in struggle with dirt

CHORUS

Last night in my dreams I was stationed forever
On a far distant isle in the midst of the sea
My one chance of life was a ceaseless endeavor
To sweep off the waves as they swept over me

Alas! Twas no dream; ahead I behold it
I see I am helpless my fate to avert
She lay down her broom, her apron she folded
She lay down and died and was buried in dirt.

CHORUS

Traditional

extra verse by Marion Wade

We're still chasing dirt but we're not just complaining
We stand up for our rights and we ask men to share
We fight with them sometimes, sometimes we're "explaining"
If we'd all stop to listen, someday we might dare
To make life worth its toil and love worth its troubles
Though beauty and riches may stay or may flee
And pleasures they'll triple or certainly double
When things will be as we would wish them to be

alternate last verse and chorus from Hilda Thomas of
Vancouver:

"Alas, 'twas no dream - ahead I behold it,
But I am not helpless my fate to avert."
She laid down her broom, her apron she folded -
"If this doesn't stop, someone's gonna get hurt!"

"Oh, life is a toil and love is a trouble,
Beauty will fade and riches will flee,
But I'm damned if I'll live with oppression that's double,
I'm damned if I'll wait any more to be free!"


@work @feminist
recorded by Peggy Seeger on Penelope's Not Waiting
and Frankie Armstrong Female Frolic
filename[ HSEWFLAM
TUNE FILE: HSEWFLAM
CLICK TO PLAY
DC, JB


The version in Alan Lomax (Folk Songs of North America, page 133, #63) is almost the same as what's in the Digital Tradition, but the DT has an additional verse, plus modern verses. Lomax says this song is related to the Old Man's Lament. I'm not convinced, but it's worth consideration.
Miriam Berg has a version of the song here (click).
You'll find a good transcription of the lyrics and music notation in Reprints from Sing Out!, volume 1 (the pink collection, or the individual volume 1). Lyrics there are almost exactly what's in the Digital Tradition.

Reprints from Sing Out! has these notes:
    This song was copied from the diary of Mrs. Sara A. Price of Ottawa, Illinois. She had seven children and lost them all. Some of her sons were killed in the Civil War. Thus, this version can be dated about mid-Nineteenth Century. It sounds like a composed song, written in the United States, not Ireland; although the tradition is that of Irish topical ballads. It has been variously titled "Life Is a Toil" and "Housekeeper's Lament." It has been recorded by Walt Robertson for Folkways Records, and some half dozen words or so given here are from his version, rather than from Mrs. Price.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 04:47 PM

Brown, North Carolina Folklore, vol. 5, I. P. Schinhan, The Music of the Folk Songs", has a musical score.

Life is a Toil, a version in Cazden et al., 1982, Folk Songs of the Catskills, has a more complex musical score.
Notes- with the title The Housekeeper's Woes, a 5-stanza text attributed to H. A. Fletcher appeared in the It's Naughty but It's Nice Songster of 1871.
A more complete 9-stanza version by "H. A. Fechter" is printed in R. A. Saalfield's folio, Comical, Topical and Mottoe Songs c. 1887.
This is the version posted by Jim Dixon (all verses also given in Folk Songs of the Catskills).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 05:42 PM

Q-
To coin a phrase, Titles are a snare and a delusion.
The best way so search the DT is to look for a word or phrase : [picture of gloom] works fine, as does complaining.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 06:08 PM

I've been singing it for..ummm... over 40 years. I 'think' I learned it from Joan O' Bryant, who taught folklore in Kansas and made a 10" LP for Folkways.....but *shrug*.. The extra verse about cooking & dishwashing was there when I learned it.

There are few songs which get such a reception in an audience who hasn't heard much 'folk'.

(The last two verses are usually sung without the traditional chorus in between... you have to stare down the audience, because they are usually ready to sing it again!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 03:47 AM

serendipity - today I was reading an article in the Dec 2009 issue of 'History Today' about a BBC Radio Four production "A history of Private Life" where it mentioned a "previously unrecorded ballad, the crushingly sad Housewife's Lament: 'There's nothing that pays as the time you waste on it/And nothing is as I would wish it to be'. " The ballad was recorded for the documentary.

All I could find on line was the article A History of Private Life Deborah Cohen reviews a radio production presented by Amanda Vickery

Then I opened Mudcat & find a thread about a song with the same title, but it's not the same song, fooey.

I'll have to see if I an listen to the programs sometime.

sandra


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 03:42 PM

One does wonder who actually composed it.

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 04:51 PM

Charlie, probably nothing to do with it, but a Mrs H. A. Fletcher was in India in Kipling's time. She wrote poems and tales redolent of India, and some verse of all kinds.
One of her books was titled Here's Rue for You. Printed in Calcutta.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Joe_F
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 10:30 PM

A thing that impresses me about this complaint is that it is not that of a poor woman. She is the mistress of a tolerably prosperous household of her time, which can afford such amenities as wallpaper, sugar, rosebushes, & ironed shirts. She doesn't even have children yet, or else she would surely have mentioned them.

True, she probably lived in the country & had no servants. But even for the bourgeoisie, keeping up a respectable household in the 19th century was a terrible grind. Read H. L. Mencken's gritty memoir "Baltimore in the Eighties".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:48 AM

Q posted on 2 june

"Housewife's Lament (O-Roy-O)

Come and listen, let me tell you about my darling Andy,
He's tall and fair and slightly randy;
At drinking porter he is quite handy [CLAP, CLAP, CLAP]
He loves me like a devil on a Sunday!

Cho.-
O-roy-o and a diddle-lum dandy,
I want a man who can tickle my fancy,
etc.,
Thread 107067
Housewife's Lament"

- Now I'm really curious about that song, as it has completely vanished, the thread has been deleted and there is no reference anywhere else!

    Try thread 2740 - the two threads were combined.
    -Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Stewart
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:10 PM

We sing this version of the song here in the Northwest:
Patti McLaughlin & Don Firth sing Life Is A Toil (yes, that's Mudcat's Don FIrth singing it back in 1959 on Seattle KTCS-TV, thanks to Bob (Deckman) Nelson's tape archive).

It's essentially the same as Q's initial post here, with a few words changed or turned around, and a couple extra verses. It was also a favorite of Walt Robertson ("Dean of Northwest Folksingers"), and recorded on his LP "American Northwest Ballads."

Cheers, S. in Seattle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Stewart
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:21 PM

And the complete recording of that Jan. 20, 1959 KCTS-TV show (including the Housewife's Lament/Life is a Toil) is here on the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society web site.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD Version: A Housekeeper's Tragedy
From: maeve
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 07:00 PM

A HOUSEKEEPER'S TRAGEDY appears in the DT DT "Housewife's Lament"
as a traditional song; as recorded by Peggy Seeger and Frankie Armstrong, and with an additional verse by Marion Wade.


This evening I happened across what seems to be an original source for the lyrics, found here:
http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6760762M/Out-of-door_rhymes.

OUT-OF-DOOR RHYMES
a collection of poems by Eliza Sproat Turner (1826-1903)
Published 1872 by J. R. Osgood & Company in Boston.
"A Housekeeper's Tragedy" appears on pages 81-84.

A HOUSEKEEPER'S TRAGEDY
(Eliza Sproat Turner)

One day as I wandered, I heard a complaining,
And saw a poor woman, the picture of gloom;
She glared at the mud on her door-step ('twas raining),
And this was her wail as she wielded her broom :

" Oh ! life is a toil, and love is a trouble,
And beauty will fade, and riches will flee,
And pleasures they dwindle, and prices they double,
And nothing is what I could wish it to be.

" There's too much of worriment goes to a bonnet ;
There's too much of ironing goes to a shirt ;
There's nothing that pays for the time you waste on it;
There's nothing that lasts but trouble and dirt.

" In March it is mud ; it's slush in December ;
The midsummer breezes are loaded with dust;
In Fall the leaves litter ; in muggy September
The wall-paper rots and the candlesticks rust.

There are worms in the cherries, and slugs in the roses,
And ants in the sugar, and mice in the pies ;
The rubbish of spiders no mortal supposes,
And ravaging roaches, and damaging flies.

It's sweeping at six, and it's dusting at seven;
It's victuals at eight, and it's dishes at nine ;
It's potting and panning from ten to eleven ;
We scarce break our fast ere we plan how to dine.

With grease and with grime, from corner to centre,
Forever at war, and forever alert,
No rest for a day, lest the enemy enter —
I spend my whole life in a struggle with dirt.

Last night, in my dream, I was stationed forever
On a little isle in the midst of the sea ;
My one chance of life, with a ceaseless endeavor,
To sweep off the waves ere they swept over me.

Alas ! 'twas no dream — again I behold it !
I yield; I am helpless my fate to avert."- —
She rolled down her sleeves, her apron she folded ;
Then lay down and died, and was buried in dirt.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 03:34 AM

Sorry, Maeve - you got moved back to the origins thread for more work, because you didn't explain what was lacking in the DT version. Things should be resolved and covered completely in the threads on a song, before something gets put in the "attributions" thread for revision of the Digital Tradition.
The DT version is certainly in common use, so we might add a separate "original" version if it is significantly different from what we have in the Digital Tradition.
The "attributions" thread is for specific, documented changes to the Digital Tradition Folk Song Database.
-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: maeve
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 06:32 AM

Joe- the author of the original text is lacking. Do with the information as you will.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 09:48 PM

Hi, Maeve - a full discussion of whatever you find, should appear in a thread on the song, so it's there for everybody to see and comment on. The "attribution" thread is reserved for ready-to-go corrections to the Digital Tradition. Entries in the "Attribution" thread should be clear and concise - and please be aware that posts in that thread are discarded once the information is harvested for the Digital Tradition. I edited your post for clarity and format, and deleted your copy-paste of the Digital Tradition transcription of the song because it was redundant and confusing.

The information you found is valuable indeed - but it belongs in this thread in complete form (where it will remain permanently), and then boiled down to the bare essentials in the "attributions" thread.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 10:08 PM

After 45 or so years, I still have seen no other source claimed for the song beyond someone saying 'it was found in a woman's diary from the Civil War era'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 10:19 PM

I dunno, Bill - if you follow the link Maeve posted and read the post from Jim Dixon above, I think you'll find that the poem was an original composition by Eliza Sproat Turner (1826-1903). See also the updated entry from the Traditional Ballad Index, above, which cites information provided by Jim Dixon to this thread.


Reprints from Sing Out! (Volume 1 - the pink one) has these notes:
    This song was copied from the diary of Mrs. Sara A. Price of Ottawa, Illinois. She had seven children and lost them all. Some of her sons were killed in the Civil War. Thus, this version can be dated about mid-Nineteenth Century. It sounds like a composed song, written in the United States, not Ireland; although the tradition is that of Irish topical ballads. It has been variously titled "Life Is a Toil" and "Housekeeper's Lament." It has been recorded by Walt Robertson for Folkways Records, and some half dozen words or so given here are from his version, rather than from Mrs. Price.
I see no reason to believe the Sing Out! attribution. I'm guessing that was a story that came from some folksinger's stage patter.....but maybe I'm wrong.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Acme
Date: 07 Jun 12 - 12:48 AM

I tried running both women's names through the university library database and don't get any hits on either. Interesting topic. I wonder if my father learned it from Walt Robinson? I'll have to see if he kept any notes about it.

SRS


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Susan of DT
Date: 07 Jun 12 - 05:23 AM

Housewife's Lament (O-Roy-O)

Come and listen, let me tell you about my darling Andy,
He's tall and fair and slightly randy;
At drinking porter he is quite handy. [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
He loves me like a devil on a Sunday!

Chorus:
O-roy-o and a diddle-lum dandy
I want a man who can tickle me fancy,
Bring me flowers and cherry brandy, [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
And loves me night and morning.

Monday night and his head is achin'
It's down to the pub for a cure he's a-makin'
Doesn't he know that my heart is breakin'? [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
We never makes love on a Monday!

Tuesday night and he gets no bolder;
Pains in his back and his neck and his shoulder,
Weather's wet and it's getting colder... [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
What an awful day is Tuesday!

(chorus)

Wednesday passes, very dreary.
Thursday night and he's feelin' weary.
Friday night though I am quite cheery: [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
Two more days till Sunday!

Saturday night and he's struts and prances
Down to the pub like a madman he dances!
12 o'clock and I've lost my chances! [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
He's sleepin' in the parlor.

(chorus)

Sunday night and he's feeling cozy
A man and his lass by the fireside rosey;
That's the lot, though you're far too nosey! [CLAP CLAP CLAP]
What a wonderful day is Sunday!

(chorus)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Jun 12 - 01:06 PM

Maggie ... yes, I happen to know that indeed your father learned the song from Walt. BTW ... check out this morning's Herald obits ... there's a "Husby" there. bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Aug 14 - 12:37 AM

I'm not sure the case is closed on this one. Somehow, Edith Fowke knew that the person who had copied the song from Sara A. Price's diary was Keith Clark, recreation director of Ottawa, Illinois.

Keith Clark recorded an album for Folkways of songs he wrote about the history of his county. One of the songs is about Willy Price, who was killed in the Civil War, and whose brother was also killed in the Civil War, and who left a diary behind. Keith gives the name of the man who then owned the diary as John Wilson. You can see all that here

Edith Fowke generally didn't make stuff up. Keith Clark was famous for chasing down old diaries. It certainly sounds like Keith Clark might have actually encountered the diary of Willy's mother, and found "The Housewife's Lament" inside. Sadly, we have no date for this diary--it could easily have been pasted or written in after 1871, making it simply a single copy of an already-published song. But the story itself, about it being found in Mrs. Price's diary, seems plausible.

It occurs to me that if the song appears in the collected reprints from Sing Out, it must have appeared first in an original issue of the magazine. Perhaps they condensed the notes for the reprint, and Keith Clark contributed it to the magazine originally with a longer note. That would explain how Edith had his name in connection with it. I'm away from the Library for a week, but I'll try to check when I get back.

Also, a Q notes above, The Housekeeper's Woes, a 5-stanza text attributed to H. A. Fletcher, appeared in the It's Naughty but It's Nice Songster of 1871. That means the earliest published version with a name on it had Fletcher's name, not Turner's. I'm not sure why folks seem to have concluded that Turner is the author.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Aug 14 - 12:54 PM

Always interesting to see more info that 'may' narrow the story. Nothing changes what I said on 05 Jun 12 and learned 45-50 years ago except adding Sara A. Price as the woman with the diary and the 'possible' attribution to Turner. Given the dates, Price 'could' have gotten it from Turner's book..or from Fletcher's book.

If there comes a chance to sing it for an audience again, I'll add some of this to my short intro. What I'd really love to know is who put the perfect tune to it,


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: GUEST,Eleanor
Date: 11 Nov 15 - 10:21 AM

I found this book in the Independent Woman's Songbook, published I think in the 1970s, with the same story about it being found in the diary of a housewife who had lost her sons in the American Civil War - don't know where they got it from, and I'm afraid I don't have the book any more to check for more details.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jun 17 - 03:43 AM

Interesting to find a recording of this song by Patty Duke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2wRlJBv0lk

Here's a recording by Jancis Harvey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35_KftBsyPU

I learned this song from the recording by Anne Hills and Cindy Mangsen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj-hbja_Vo0


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Poor Old Woman/Housewife's Lament
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 07 Jun 17 - 08:00 AM

I first heard this song sung by Pete Seeger in 1957. To the best of my knowledge Pete was almost single-handedly responsible for spreading Housewife's Lament far and wide.

Pete never said where he got it or who from. Reading this thread, I don't see any clear indication of folksinger origin before his introduction of it, though Joan O'Bryant dates back far enough, and could be a possibility.

Remaining is the mystery of the lovely tune. The song began, it seems, as a poem. Does anyone know who originated the melody? Did Pete Seeger compose it, or did it come to him with tune attached, and if so, from whom?

Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 17 June 10:11 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.