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Riddle Song - bird without a gall?

DigiTrad:
CAPTAIN HANLEY AND SWEET MAZIE
CAPTAIN WEDDERBURN'S COURTSHIP
GO NO MORE A-RUSHING (Riddle Song)
I WILL GIVE MY LOVE AN APPLE
PERRY MERRY DICTUM, DOMINE (Riddle song)
PHYSICIST'S RIDDLE SONG
THE RIDDLE SONG
THE RIDDLE SONG (2: I HAVE A YOUNG SUSTER)
THREE DISHES AND SIX QUESTIONS


Related threads:
I gave my love a cherry - new thought? (15)
(origins) Origins: riddle song (I Gave My Love a Cherry) (52)
(origins) Origins: I Will Give My Love an Apple (4)
Lyr Req: The Riddle Song, help to understand (23)
(origins) Origin: I Gave My Love a Cherry (The Riddle Song) (2) (closed)


GUEST,Bev 18 Jan 04 - 12:44 AM
Metchosin 18 Jan 04 - 04:40 AM
Metchosin 18 Jan 04 - 04:53 AM
GUEST 18 Jan 04 - 08:20 AM
dick greenhaus 18 Jan 04 - 09:28 AM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Jan 04 - 10:20 AM
Metchosin 18 Jan 04 - 01:07 PM
Louie Roy 18 Jan 04 - 10:28 PM
GUEST,Kent Davis 18 Jan 04 - 11:14 PM
Metchosin 19 Jan 04 - 12:23 AM
Tansy 06 Nov 04 - 10:27 AM
Nerd 06 Nov 04 - 10:38 AM
Nerd 06 Nov 04 - 10:53 AM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Nov 04 - 03:37 PM
Nerd 06 Nov 04 - 03:49 PM
Tansy 07 Nov 04 - 12:17 AM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Nov 04 - 01:05 AM
Tansy 07 Nov 04 - 01:35 AM
Nerd 07 Nov 04 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Bex 10 Dec 04 - 05:19 PM
Abby Sale 07 Mar 07 - 04:32 PM
Uncle_DaveO 07 Mar 07 - 05:20 PM
Abby Sale 08 Mar 07 - 05:13 PM
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Subject: Riddle Song
From: GUEST,Bev
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 12:44 AM

Hi!
In some of the earlier versions of the Riddle Song, such as Captain Wedderburn's Courtship, there's mention of a bird without a "gall", and the answer is a "dove".
Does anyone know what "gall" refers to, and why "dove" is the answer?


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 04:40 AM

Not all species of birds possess a gall bladder, in particular, most species of parrots, pigeons and ostriches.

The dove or pigeon, from ancient times, was considered special because of this anatomical difference, as the "gall" was considered the seat of bitterness in an individual. Hence the dove or pigeon, being without "gall", lacked some of the more unpleasant aspects of personality, shared by man other beasties.

Apparently there are Biblical tales about the dove bursting its gall bladder in grief when Nohah released it from the Ark, as an explanation for the absence.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 04:53 AM

so.....you could answer "African Grey" and be correct too, but just don't say "Cockatoo", because apparently they do have gall bladders and I've heard they can be quite nasty.

jeez! the things you can learn through Google when you're bored in the wee hours of Sunday morning.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:20 AM

Thanks for the helpful answer, Metchosin. And now I have another question re another variant I've just seen:

Go no more a-rushing, maids, in May
Go no more a-rushing, maids, I pray
Go no more a-rushing, or you'll fall a-blushing
Bundle up your rushes and haste away.


What does "rushing" mean, and why will the maids end up "blushing"?

Thanks, Bev


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:28 AM

Presumably, gathering rushes (for floormats and brooms)


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 10:20 AM

Also a commonplace euphemism, of course. "Bunch of rushes", "ball of yarn", "little meadow", that sort of thing. Going "a-rushing" frequently resulted, not only in fresh floor-coverings, but (in song, and doubtless in life) in pregnancy; and all the consequent embarrassment.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Metchosin
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 01:07 PM

your welcome Bev, glad you asked, because its not something I'd ever speculated about, despite having raised pigeons when I was young and sung the song. Sometimes you can learn just as much answering a question as you can by asking it. ( I've now learned more about gall bladders than I ever cared to know). I just considered that doves and pigeons were (erroneously) considered sweet tempered and never connected the dots to realize that their temperment was once considered the result of their anatomy. Then again, it's probably a good thing that ostriches are not considered a symbol of peace; they are not as cute and too many people wrongly believe that they stick their head in the ground when danger threatens.

I also found out that horses don't have gall bladders either. I'll try to remember that fact the next time I believe that one has "deliberately" stepped on my foot.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Louie Roy
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 10:28 PM

You will find that most birds and fowls don't have a gall they have a gizzard


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: GUEST,Kent Davis
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 11:14 PM

Thanks for the info. about doves. By the way, there is no Biblical story about doves bursting their gall bladders in grief.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Metchosin
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 12:23 AM

Louie Roy, there are a lot of species of birds that don't have gall bladders, true, however a chicken does. The gizzard is not an equivalent organ, it performs a grinding function higher up in the digestive tract, the gallbladder, when present is near the liver and stores bile that aids in further digestion. When I was small I was told to be careful, when cleaning a bird (chicken), because if I ruptured the gallbladder, it would render the chicken inedible.

Kent, according to The First Hypertext Edition of The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable there is, although the reference is pretty archaic. I did see other on-line sites referring to the same biblical fable, but I also do not recall any direct passage in the Bible regarding that particular tidbit, however, I included it as a point of interest as it seemed sort of touching.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Tansy
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 10:27 AM

I was looking up Lyrics to the older version of the Riddle song, often called "I have a Young sister (far Across the Sea)" and I happened upon this thread. Does anybody know what the deal is with the two versions? I assume the "I agve my love a Cherry" version that everyone seems to know in America, is in fact, an American variant of the "i Have a Young Sister" version..but is there any scholarship on this?

I grew up with the older version and found the American Riddle SOng to be rather stupid and obvious in comparison. I had always been told that MY version went back to the 12th Century and given some of the language preserved in the song, I'd not be surprised if that's true.

Is there any indication of when the newer meoldy and lyrics overtook the older one? You UK Mudcatters, if somebody asks YOU to sing the RIddle song, do you sing the one I am most familiar with or the other one.. the "I gave my love a cherry" one?


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 10:38 AM

Well, Cyril Tawney used to sing the "I Gave My Love A Cherry" version (though his was "I Will Give My Love") and very specifically referred to it as a song from Dorset. At the time he was combing the local libraries down there, as well as the published collections of south-west English material. This particular album (which was entitled I Will Give My Love) has only the county and the lyrics, not the notes Cyril often included. So: anyone familiar enough with the collections that included Dorset to suggest the source Cyril was using?


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 10:53 AM

By the way, any suggestion that any surviving folk song goes back to the 12th century is very optimistic! Looking at the lyrics, I would say 14th-15th century, and the Norton Anthology of Poetry puts it in the 15th century. Already, this makes it one of the older songs coming down in English oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 03:37 PM

The Hammond brothers got a set, I will Give my Love an Apple, from Mr J Burrows at Sherborne, Dorset, in July 1906 (Journal of the Folk Song Society, III (11) 1907, 114-115, which includes the "cherry" verses. Bronson also quotes a Scottish MS example (one verse only). Generally, it seems that versions beginning with the cherry verses are American, though of course the cherry conceit goes all the way back to the earliest known (15th century) example.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 03:49 PM

Cyril's does indeed begin with the apple and then moves on to the cherry. It's probably the one Malcolm makes reference to above.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Tansy
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 12:17 AM

Thank you all. It is helpful information.. as for dates..well., I doubt anything older than 15th century can be proven to be so very easily. I was just going by some linguistic sources that compare it to even older poems. It's plausible given its structure.

Do people have a preference for one version or the other? I much prfer the older melody. If you got a request would you sing the common version to appease the audience or would you try and introduce them to the older one, which is more pleasing to the ear..or least my ear?


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 01:05 AM

What "linguistic sources" would those be? When making suggestions of that kind, you really need to cite proper references, if only to prevent people from quoting, later on, what you have said as if it were proven "fact" (which will happen); an awful lot of misinformation is spread around that way, I'm afraid.

When you say "the older melody", which one do you mean? There are quite a few. Don't take my questions amiss; they are intended only to try to ensure that we have a reasonable consensus on what we are talking about.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Tansy
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 01:35 AM

Plaese pardon my apparent grievous error....in addition to my degrees in Anthro and Archeology, I have an advanced degree in Linguistics and based on my past experiences, very few people, even within the dsiciplines, enjoy being lectured about cognate research, archival texts and fairly meaningless Linguistic L-serve arguments about origins of folksongs which prompted my question. Such discussions invariably are the result of some of the more SCA-minded folks, of which I am not. Obviously, I violated some "rule" that exists here.

I'd need permission from the other folks in the L-serve to post their ramblings and opinions as well as any writings that have not been published in academic forums. We had gotten into a fairly silly but fervent discussion of Renaissance music, the Riddle song came up along with the contention of an older date. Various texts were trotted out, none of which would be comprehensible or interesting to an average or above average audience.

I'll not bring anytthing like this up again. My apologies.

In all my experience of singing publically, which is not as much as others I am sure, and in my studies, I've not encountered more than two common melodies for the song. The one that goes with "I gave my love a cherry" that most people are familair with.... and the one associated with the lyrics commonly reffered to as "I have a young sister."

I can see that I've made some horrible Mudcat Etiquette misstep here to provoke such a response. Please excuse my error. It was not my intent to enrage people. However, it is not my style to respond to suggestions that I am an utter idiot just because I did not post a Doctoral thesis on the subject of my question. In order to refute the impication that I am an utter idiot, I'd need to post pages of scholarship that would not be of interest to very many. I get that I'm not supposed to open my mouth unless I can cite chapter and verse. i get it. As I said, it won't happen again. Forgive the transgression and the assumption that Mudcatters might share their preference for one melody or another. How stupid of me to even assume such a thing.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Nerd
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 11:30 AM

Tansy,

You wouldn't really need to post pages of a thesis; you could say, for example, that feature x and feature y are similar to older forms of the words in question. Many of us here also have advanced degrees (I have degrees in Medieval Lit and in Folklore) and will not only understand but appreciate that kind of thing.

One caution, which of course you'll be aware of, is that older features survived into later written language; Chaucer writes the same words variously, sometimes in more archaic forms and sometimes in more modern forms. As you said, the only real proof would be an older manuscript, since we don't know when archaic forms of language definitively died out.


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: GUEST,Bex
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:19 PM

I'm actually trying to find out about Perry Merry Dixie Domine translations, but Mudcat hasThe Riddle Song (2: I have a young suster)...Fer biyonde the see.... with translations for goodness sakes! datec.1430   any help?


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 07 Mar 07 - 04:32 PM

So last night at the Folk-Jam as we went in I was told that they were singing songs about chickens. Following my wont, I ignored whatever the joke might have been (likely some song involving a drunken redneck and a truck) and tried to think of any chicken song I might know. I quickly thought of a song about a parrot, one about a partridge, one about a hoodie and one about two crows and offered those. The good, liberal folk allowed that parrot tastes much like chicken and that would be ok.

But then I did remember this one and just sang the last two verses:

How can there be a cherry without a stone?
How can there be a chicken that has no bone?
How can there be a story that has no end?
How can there be a baby with no crying?

A cherry in a Manhattan, it has no stone,
A chicken a la King, it has no bone,
A modern novel, it has no end,
A baby when it's strangled, has no crying.

That was acceptable and launched a mini-discussion of other Hostile Baby Rocking songs (see DigTrad).

But I cannot remember where this version comes from. Certainly early-to-mid 60's (from 'modern novel..' if nothing else.) Kingston Trio?


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Mar 07 - 05:20 PM

Tansy (if you're still around here, and see this after 2-1/2 years), you said, in part:

Obviously, I violated some "rule" that exists here.

and later,

I'll not bring anytthing like this up again. My apologies.

and then again

I can see that I've made some horrible Mudcat Etiquette misstep here to provoke such a response.

Not so, Tansy. There are no set etiquette rules around here. I think you may have overreacted to Malcolm Douglas's suggestion, which I think he phrased fairly mildly and politely, (at least in the Mudcat context) and certainly not as angrily bashing you.

Your question was perfectly fine. Had you given a little more of the history, in sort of shorthand terms such as Nerd suggested, it would have been nice, and helpful, but relax a little. Your question, as I said, was perfectly appropriate even without the amplification.

Given your background as well as this particular question, I do hope that you have stuck around long enough to read this. A belated welcome aboard!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Riddle Song - bird without a gall?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 08 Mar 07 - 05:13 PM

refresh
(Now don't make me go ask some doited Yahoo group!)


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