The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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62 POOR MARY SITS A-WEEPING—POOR WIDOW
where the marriage is neither expressed by a formula, nor implied by other means (Winterton and Forest of Dean), the versions are evidently fragments only, and probably at one time ended, as in the other cases, with marriage. But in three other cases the ending is not with marriage. The Earls Heaton and Scottish versions represent the cause of weeping as the death of a father, the Berkshire version introduces the apparently unmeaning incident of Mary bearing a shepherd's cross, and the South Devon version represents the cause of weeping the death of a lover at sea. It is obvious that at places where sailors abound, the incident of weeping for a sailor-lover who is dead would get inserted, and the fact of this change only occurring once in the versions I have collected, tells all the more strongly in favour of the original version having repre­sented marriage and love, and not death, but it does not follow that the marriage formula belongs to the oldest or original form of the game. I am inclined to think this has been added since marriage was thought to be the natural and proper result of choosing a sweetheart.
(d) The change in some of the verses, as in the Cambridge version, is due to corruption and the marked decadence now occurring in these games. No. 13 in the analysis is from the game "Pretty little girl of mine," and Nos. 42-3 " Ring o' Roses."
Poor Widow
I. Here's an old widow who lies alone,
Lies alone, lies alone, Here's an old widow who lies alone, She wants a man and can't get one. Choose one, choose two, choose the fairest. The fairest one that I can see Is [Mary Hamilton], come unto me. Now she is married and tied to a bag, She has got a man with a wooden leg.
—Belfast (W. H. Patterson). II. There was an old soldier he came from the war, His age it was sixty and three. Go you, old soldier, and choose a wife, Choose a good one or else choose none.







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