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The Jolly Beggarman
Album: Drifting with Michener
 
Child Ballad #279
 
 

 

 

A beggarman cam ower the lea
An' mony's the tale he taul' to me
"Saying Auld guidwife for charity
Will ye lodge a beggar man?"
 
A beggarman comes over the meadow with tales to tell. He stops at a house and asks the woman of the house for lodging.
Chorus:
With his tooran mooran non ton nee,
Right ton mooran fol the doo-a-dee
Right ton nooran nooran nee
With his tooran mooran -eye-do
 
 
The night being dark and somewhat wat,
It's by the fire the auld carle sat,
And cust the meal pock aff his back,
And aye he ranted and sang.
 
wat: wet
auld: old' carle: peasant, common man
He took his sack, for carrying food, off his back
"Gin I as blythe as blythe could be,
As the day I left my ain countrie,
It's blythe and merry I wad be
And I wadna think it lang."
 
The beggarman extolls the virtues of his lifestyle.
"Gin I was as black as I am white,
As the snaw that lies on yonder dyke,
I dress myself as beggar like
And awa' wi' you I'd gang."
 
The young lassie of the house, declares that she would be happy to dress up as a beggar and go away with the beggarman.
"O lassie, lassie ye are ower young
You hinna the cant o' the beggar tongue,
Ye hinna the cant o' the beggar tongue.
An' wi' me ye canna gang."
 
The beggarman tells her she does not know the customs and stories of the beggars and cannot go with him.
"I'll bend my back and boo my knee,
I'll put a black patch on my e'e,
An' like a beggar I will be
An' awa wi' you I'll gang."
 
The lassie says she can dress up and act like a beggar. In the first line she says she can act as a beggar by showing respect to her superiors "boo my knee".
An' syne the twa made up the plot
To rise twa oors afore the folk,
And softly did they slip the lock
An' ower the muir they ran.
 
The beggarman agrees. The two get up two hours before the girl's parents and slip out the door, and run across the moor.
An' in the morning the auld folk raise,
They sawna the beggar an' his claes,
They sawna the beggar an' his claes,
"But there's nane o' oor guid gear gane."
 
When the parents wake up they discover that the beggarman is gone (he has taken his clothes), but it appears he hasn't stolen anything.
Syne the auld said "Guidman, wauken the bairn,
The milk for to kirn, and the claes to airn,
The milk for to kirn, and the claes to airn,
And bid her come quickly ben.
 
The wife asks her husband to wake the daughter, as there is milk to churn and clothes to iron.
He gaed to the room where his dochter lay,
The sheets were cauld, and she was away,
"Guidwife, guidwife," the auld man did say,
"She's awa' wi' the beggar man."
 
The husband goes to his daughter's room and discovers her gone. He tells his wife she's gone away with the beggarman.
Some rode on horseback and some on foot,
But for the auld wife she wasna fit,
She hirpled aboot maist oot o' her wit,
"I'll ne'er lodge a beggar again."
 
The townspeople search for the girl, but the mother can not help as she is not well (she walks with a limp), but she is very angry and swears that she will not take in a beggarman again.
When three lang years were come and gane,
Back cam' the beggarman again,
Sayin' "Auld guidwife for charity,
Wad you lodge a beggar man?"
 
Three years later the beggarman appears again, asking for a bed.
"An auld beggarman I'll ne'er lodge again
I hadna a dochter but ane o' my ain,
An' awa' wi' a beggar man she's gane,
An' I dinna ken whan or whare."
 
The mother says she will not lodge him because a beggarman took her only daughter away, and she doesn't know where.
"She's comin' yonder ower the lea,
Wi' mony a fine tale unto thee,
Wi' aye bonnie bairnie on her knee,
An' anither is comin' hame.
 
The beggarman tells her that her daughter is coming over the meadow, carrying one baby and another baby on the way.
"0 she's comin' frae her bowers,
Wi' silks and satins and fine flowers."
She held up her han' and she blest the day,
That she followed a beggar man.
 
The man tells her that her daughter is coming from her house, wearing fine clothes. It seems the beggarman was not a beggarman after all but a rich land owner. The daughter blesses the day she ran away with the beggarman.

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