The Pretty Maid Milking Her Cow (Leach)

It was on a fine summer's morning,
When the birds sweetly tuned on each bough,
I heard a fair maid sing most charming,
As she sat a-milking her cow.
Her voice it was chanting, melodious,
She left me scarce able to go;
My heart it is soothed in solace,
For my pretty maid milking her cow.

With courtesy I did salute her,
"Good morrow, most amiable maid;
I'm your captive slave for the future."
"Kind sir, do not banter," she said.
"I'm not such a precious rare jewel,
That I should enamour you so;
I am but a plain country girl," says Colleen,
My pretty maid milking her cow.

"The Indies afford no such jewels,
So precious and transparently fair;
Oh, do not to my flame add fuel,
But consent for to love me, my dear.
Take pity and grant my desire,
And leave me no longer in woe;
Oh, love me or else I'll expire, sweet Colleen,
My pretty maid milking her cow.

"Oh, had I the wealth of a pharoah,
Or aIl down the African shore;
Oh, had I great Devonshire treasures,
Or had I ten thousand times more.
Oh, had I the lamp of Alladdin,
Or had I a genie also;
l'd rather live poor on a mountain,
With my Colleen, a-milking her cow."

"I beg you withdraw and don't tease me,
I cannot consent unto thee;
I like to live single and airy,
Till more of the world I do see.
New cares they would me only embarrass,
Besides, sir, my fortune is low,
Until I get rich I'll not marry,"
Says my Colleen, a-milking her cow.

"An old maid is like an old Almanac,
Quite useless when once out of date;
If her ware is not sold in the morning,
At noon it must fall to low rate.
The fragrance of May is soon over,
The rose loses its beauty, you know;
All bloom is consumed in October, sweet Colleen,
My pretty maid milking her cow."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of an early 19th-century British broadside ballad, The Pretty Maid Milking Her Cow, published by G Walker (London) sometime between 1797 and 1834, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Firth b.26(457) ....####

Collected in 1951 from Michael Murphy [1905-1999] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).


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