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Lyr Add: The Carman's Whistle

Jim Dixon 08 Oct 21 - 12:02 PM
Jim Dixon 08 Oct 21 - 12:46 PM
Jim Dixon 08 Oct 21 - 12:53 PM
Jim Dixon 08 Oct 21 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,John Moulden 11 Oct 21 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,John Moulden 11 Oct 21 - 09:56 AM
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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Oct 21 - 12:02 PM

This is a relatively innocent version:

Lyrics from The New Standard Song Book, edited by J. E. Carpenter (London : G. Routledge & Sons, 1866), page 82:

[Tune—"The Carman's whistle." 16th Century.]

Young Tom the carman's tongue was slow,
A sorry gift of speech had he;
He'd rather let his horses know
His secret thoughts than you or me.
He whistled, whistled, whistled daily,
Whether good or ill befell;
He whistled sadly, whistled gaily,
While his horses marked him well.

Fair Susan's glance was proud and cold,
The carman's heart she nearly broke;
But still his face was bluff and bold,
And not a single word he spoke.
He whistled, whistled, whistled sadly,
Whistled, whistled all the day;
But though he whistled, whistled madly,
Could not whistle care away.

Fair Susan's glance was kind and bright,
She owned her love, that buxom maid;
Young Tom was crazy with delight,
He stammered, blushed, but nought he said.
He whistled, whistled, whistled gaily,
His joy by whistling he would tell,
And while he whistled, whistled daily,
The knowing beasts rejoiced as well.

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Subject: Recording Add: THE CARMAN'S WHISTLE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Oct 21 - 12:46 PM

There is a Wikipedia article about THE CARMAN'S WHISTLE. The article mentions "risqué lyrics" from the 17th century, but it is mainly concerned with the tune.

William Byrd wrote a keyboard arrangement with variations, which you can hear at YouTube performed by:

Eberhard Kraus on harpsichord

Elena Zamolodchikova on clavichord

Joyce Chen on virginal

Charles Tebbs on piano

Joseph Chesshyre on organ

Julian Bream on lute

and others, too numerous to list.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Carman's Whistle
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Oct 21 - 12:53 PM

John P posted lyrics to a 5-verse version of THE CARMAN’S WHISTLE in a thread called “euphemistic for sex? folk songs?” on 05-May-2012.

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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Oct 21 - 02:16 PM

This is the complete bawdy version.

These lyrics were transcribed by me [JD] from a broadside at the Bodleian Library website, where there are two nearly identical copies: Douce Ballads 1(32b) and Douce Ballads 1(38a), both classified as Roud Number V18821 and dated “between 1689 and 1709.”

The Courteous Carman,
and the
Amorous MAID:
The Carman’s Whistle.

What here is penn’d in this same pleasant Story,
Doth only tend unto the C A R M A N’s Glory,
Who did relieve a Maiden in Distress,
And brought her Joy in midst of Heaviness;
He was Couragious, and of Mettle good,
As by this Story may be understood.

To the Tune of, The Carman’s Whistle: or, Lord Willoughby’s March, &c.

[1] As I abroad was walking
  by the breaking of the day,
Into a pleasant meadow
  a young Man took his way,
And looking round about him,
  to mark what he could see,
At lenth he ‘spy’d a fair Maid
  under a mirtle-tree;

[2] So comly was her countenance,
  and smiling was her cheer,
As though the Goddess Venus
  herself she had been there,
And many a smirking smile she gave,
  amongst the leaves so green,
Although she was perceivéd,
  she thought she was not seen.

[3] At length she chang’d her countenance,
  and sung a mournful song,
Lamenting her misfortune,
  she staid a Maid so long:
There’s many that be younger,
  that long time have been wed,
Which makes me think that I shall dye,
  and keep my maiden-head.

[4] Sure young Men are hard hearted,
  and know not what they do,
Or else they want for complements
  fair Maidens for to woe[woo]:
Why should young Virgins pine away,
  and lose their chiefest prime,
And all for want of Sweet-hearts,
  to chear us up in time?

[5] The young Man heard her ditty,
  and could no longer stay,
But straight unto this Damosel
  with speed he did away;
He nimbly stept unto her,
  which made her for to start,
But when he once embrac’d her,
  he joy’d her very heart.

[6] Sweet-heart, he said unto her,
  why do you so complain?
If you’ll be rul’d by me
  I’ll play you such a strain,
As uses for to give content,
  when as true Lovers meets,
It is much like to that they call
  the shaking of the sheets.

[7] Strike up, quoth she, and spare not,
  I prithee use thy skill,
For why I greatly care not
  if I thy mind fulfil.
The Carman then most nimbly
  unto this sport did settle,
And pleaséd her most bravely,
  for he was full of mettle.

[8] When he had plaid unto her
  one merry note or two,
Then was she so rejoycéd
  she knew not what to do:
O God-a-mercy Carman,
  thou art a lively Lad;
Thou hast as rare a whistle
  as ever Carman had.

[9] Now if my Mother chide me,
  for staying here so long;
What if she doth, I care not,
  for this shall be my song:
Pray Mother be contented,
  break not my heart in twain,
Although I have been ill a while
  I shall be well again.

[10] And thus this loving Couple
  did oftentimes embrace,
And lovingly did prattle
  all in that flowry place:
But now the time of parting
  began for to draw near,
Whereas this jolly Carman
  must leave his only Dear.

[11] He took his leave most kindly,
  and thus to her did say,
My Dearest, I will meet thee
  next time I come this way.
Away this bony[bonny] Carman went
  a whistling of his note,
And there he left this fair Maid
  a brushing of her coat.

[12] Now fare thee well, brave Carman,
  I wish the[thee] well to fare,
For thou didst use me kindly
  as I can well declare:
Let other Maids say what they will,
  the truth of all is so,
The bonny Carman’s whistle
  shall for my mony[money] go.

London: Printed by and for W. O. and are to be sold by C. Bates, in Pye-corner.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Carman's Whistle
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 11 Oct 21 - 09:54 AM

I have posted a draft of an, as yet not but soon to be, published essay on my website - entitled "The best English-Irish poetry before Yeats" it is under at It begins by showing the derivation of the apparently innocuous "The next market day" (or Comber Ballad) from this song and continues with more (more-or-less) intelligent bawdry.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Carman's Whistle
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 11 Oct 21 - 09:56 AM

A bit got wiped out of my message above - the essay is under Changing Tradition - Studies.

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