Ploughman (II), The
DESCRIPTION: Singer, a ploughman, praises his fellows, his profession and his recreations.
EARLIEST DATE: 1904
KEYWORDS: work drink nonballad farming
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Williams-Thames, pp. 122-123, "I Am a Pretty Wench" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 449)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 84, "The Ploughman" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "I am a Pretty Wench"
NOTES [297 words]: This is a muddled song. As collected in 1904, the singer began with a verse from "The Condescending Lass" (a song in which the lass in question rejects the idea of marrying men of various professions). He veered off immediately, however, into a praiseful description of ploughmen, and the lass is not heard from again. [Vaughan Williams and Lloyd] excised the seemingly-unconnected first verse and assigned the present title (the singer had called it "Pretty Wench"). -PJS
[For that "Pretty Wench" song, see "I am a Pretty Wench." The title "The Condescending Lass" for the poem appears to be known primarily from broadsides; the typical traditional title is either "Pretty Wench" or "I Am a Pretty Wench." - RBW]
To tell this from other songs in praise of farmhands, consider this first stanza:
"A ploughman dresses fine, he drinks strong beer ale and wine
And the best of tobacco he do smoke;
Pretty maids don't think amiss a ploughman for to kiss,
For his breath smells as sweet as a rose, a rose, a rose
For his breath smells as sweet as a rose." - RBW
It appears Roud would have Opie-Oxford2 525, "I am a pretty wench" be the verse excised by Vaughan Williams and Lloyd. Roud has other examples as well under #2538. Opie-Oxford2 notes that this song is in Alfred Williams Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames (1923) and that Vaughan Williams did collect it. If we ever add one of those "The Pretty Wench" songs it should probably considered separate from "The Ploughman."
Williams-Thames has the pretty wench compare weavers to carters ("The carter dresses fine, He drinks strong beer, ale, and wine, And smokes tobacco ...." and "his breath smells as sweet as the rose...."). It does begin with the "I Am a Pretty Wench" verse which matches the pattern of the rest of the song. - BS
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