DESCRIPTION: A girl laments "I am afraid to die a maid." A man overhears and offers her "Watkin's Ale." She accepts. After much witty repartee, they part. Nine months later, her child is born. The moral: "It is no jesting with sharp-edged tools."
EARLIEST DATE: mentioned twice in 1592 (Munday, Chettle)
KEYWORDS: seduction pregnancy sex bawdy bastard
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Chappell/Wooldridge I, p. 265, "Watkin's Ale" (1 tune)
BBI, ZN3278A, "As Watkin walked by the way" (also "There was a maid this other day")
NOTES: This probably is not a traditional tune; the words are too fiendishly clever and the music too complex to have arisen in oral tradition. The song is rather frequently mentioned, however, particularly for such a bawdy piece. Chances are it was popular enough to include here. And I happen to think it too clever to omit. - RBW
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.