Barley Broth, by Miss Susannah Blamire 
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If tempers wer' put up to seale,
Oor Jwohn's wad bear a deuced price;
He vow'd twas barley i' the broth -
Upon my word, says I, it's rice.

"I mek nea faut," our Jwohny says,
"The broth is gud an' varra nice;
I nobbut say - it's barley broth."
"T'ou says what's wrang," says I, "it's rice."

"Did iver mortal hear the like !
As if I hedn't sense to tell !
T'ou may think rice the better thing,
But barley broth dis just as well."

"An' sae it mud, if it was there;
The deil a grain is i' the pot;
But t'ou mun ayways threep yen doon, -
I've drawn the deevil of a lot !"

"An' what's the lot 'at I hev drawn ?
Pervarsion is a woman's neame !
Sae fares-t'e-weel ! I'll sarve my king,
An' niver, niver mair come heame."

Now Jenny frets frae mworn to neet;
The Sunday cap's nae langer nice;
She aye puts barley i' the broth,
An' hates the varra neame o' rice.

Thus trifles vex, an' trifles please,
An' trifles mek the sum o' life;
An' trifles mek a bonny lass
A wretched or a happy wife !

 

 

 

Modernised:-

If tempers were put up for sale,
Our John's would bear a heavy price;
He vowed it was barley in the broth -
Upon my word, says I, it's rice.

"I make no fault," our Johny says,
"The broth is good and very nice;
I only say - it's barley broth."
"Thou says wrong," says I, "it's rice."

"Did ever mortal hear the like !
As if I hadn't sense to tell !
Thou may think rice the better thing,
But barley broth does just as well."

"And so it must, if it was there;
The devil a grain is in the pot;
But you must always argue one down, -
I've drawn the devil of a lot !"

"And what's the lot that I have drawn ?
Perversion is a woman's name !
So fare thee well ! I'll serve my king,
An' never, never more come home."

Now Jenny worries from morn to night;
The Sunday cap's no longer nice;1
She always puts barley in the broth,
And hates the very name of rice.

Thus trifles vex, and trifles please,
And trifles make the sum of life;
And trifles make a bonny lass
A wretched or a happy wife !

 

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  Songs And Ballads Of Cumberland And The Lake Country, by Sidney Gilpin, published in London by John Russell Smith, and in Carlisle by G. & T. Coward, 1874.

 

 
  


Notes

1. Cap may here be a two-handled wooden drinking vessel, the implication being that now she drinks alone. Other suggestions for the meaning of this line would be welcome.


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman