Murphy In The Cupboard (Lehr and Best)

O in love there's a treasure,
there's pain in the pleasure,
The sweet and the sour don't equally meet,
And I by the powers had tasted the sour,
I scarcely had tasted one bit of the sweet.
My heart was a sad one, I scarce knew I had one
Until I had lost it with Molly McClare;
Well, it left me one morning without any warning,
To stay with sweet Molly, the cook of Kildare.

The looks that sweet Molly gave,
sharp as green holly,
And it bothered me more than a mortal can bear;
And I being such taken, in sleeping or waking -
I'm all the time thinking of Molly McClare.
She would not come near me not even to hear me,
She shunned me the same as a mouse with a cat;
She bothered my wishes and I got suspicious,
My Molly had something I couldn't get at.

As I rovèd out on one clear winter's evening,
'Twas Molly's own beautiful self I did spy;
And just a I passed, sir, the door of her master
I found it stood open and I slipped inside.
The door it I entered and onward I ventured
Right into the kitchen without being seen;
With stumbling and poking, a-fumbling and groping,
I found out a cupboard and shut myself in.

Soon Molly came thither, she had a man with her,
'Twas Murphy the weaver I knew by his voice;
Their talk was excusing and me she refusing -
Poor Murphy don't stand a great deal, a fit choice.
There was such a loud cracking
and kissing and smacking
Possessed me with madness and envy outright;
And I being such taken and greatly mistaken,
Expecting Miss Molly some day for my wife.

I'd love to be viewing to see what they're doing,,
To hunt for a hole might afford me some sight;
But knowing their appearance,
I knew that my hearing
Would be just as good in the dark as the light.
A dainty fine posset I met in the closet,
And just like the filling my stomach I took [sic];
I knew it not sinful for eating a skinful
Or tasting, like Murphy, the charms of the cook.

Soon Molly's sweet kisses got spoiled by her mistress
Who chanced to walk in, but no man did she see;
And Murphy for shelter set off helter-skelter
Right into the very same cupboard with me.
'Twas there he sat nigh me but still couldn't spy me,
'Twas nothing but darkness was there to be seen;
And when the old lady walked out I was ready,
I slipped from the closet, I locked Murphy in.

I candidly told him the closet should hold him
Until he'd relinquished my Molly for life.
The answer he made me:
'That's more than I can, sir,
Because it do happen that she is my wife.'
O since she have carried you slyly and married you -
O Molly, I will be revenged on your spark!
I'll serve him as you did me when you deluded me,
That is, I'll keep him shut up in the dark.

Just having the forecast of holding the door fast,
I put that poor lady in the hell of a fright.
She bid me unlock it, but into my pocket
I put the key safe and I bid her good-night.
'Twas soon I suspect that her master detected
This rogue of a Murphy and brought him on trial.
For stealing that posset I ate in the closet
He spent his sweet honeymoon locked up in jail!

####.... Author unknown. Variant of the theme in the British broadside ballad, The Boatswain And The Chest [Laws Q8] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of the theme in the 19th-century British Broadside ballad The Bold Boatswain Of Dover, published by J Pitts (London) sometime between 1819 and 1844, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark Firth c.13(209) ....####
This variant collected in 1980 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #81 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.143-144, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Anita Best noted that this song was often sung or recited at Christmas or St Patrick's Day concerts in Clattice Harbour and Merasheen. An elderly gentleman told her he once acted out the part of the man in the cupboard and everyone 'was in screeches' of laughter.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

From the Bartender Guide: Posset - old British drink from which eggnog was derived. It consists of a mixture of heated ale or wine curdled with milk, eggs, and spices.


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