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Down ran the wine into the road,
Most piteous to be seen, Which made his horse's flanks to smoke
As they had basted been.
But still he seemed to carry weight,
With leathern girdle braced; For all might see the bottle-necks
Still dangling at his waist.
Thus all through merry Islington
These gambols he did play, Until he came unto the Wash
Of Edmonton so gay ;
And there he threw the wash about
On both sides of the way, Just like unto a trundling mop,
Or a wild goose at play.
At Edmonton his loving wife
From the balcony espied Her tender husband, wondering much
To see how he did ride.
" Stop, stop, John Gilpin ! Here's the house,"
They all at once did cry; " The dinner waits, and we are tired."
Said Gilpin, " So am I!"
But yet his horse was not a whit
Inclined to tarry there. For why ? His owner had a house
Full ten miles off, at Ware.
So like an arrow swift he flew,
Shot by an archer strong; So did he fly�which brings me to
The middle of my song.
Away went Gilpin, out of breath,
And sore against his will, Till at his friend the calender's
His horse at last stood still.
The calender, amazed to see
His neighbor in such trim, Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate,
And thus accosted him :
41 What news ? what news ? Your tidings tell; Tell me you must and shall�
Say why bareheaded you are come, Or why you come at all!"
Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit,
And loved a timely joke ; And thus unto the calender
In merry guise he spoke:
" I came because your horse would come,
And if I well forebode, My hat and wig will soon be here;
They are upon the road."
The calender, right glad to find
His friend in merry pin, Returned him not a single word,
But to the house went in ;
Whence straight he came, with hat and wig
A wig that flowed behind, A hat not much the worse for wear,
Each comely in its kind.
He held them up, and in its turn
Thus showed his ready wit; " My head is twice as big as yours,
They therefore needs must fit.
" But let me scrape the dust away
That haugs upon your face; And stop and eat, for well you may
Be in a hungry case."
Said John, "It is my wedding-day,
And all the world would stare If wife should dine at Edmonton,
And I should dine at Ware."
So, turning to his horse, he said,
" I am in haste to dine; 'Twas for your pleasure you came here:
You shall go back for mine."
Ah, luckless speech, and bootless boast!
For which he paid full dear; For while he spoke a braying ass
Did sing most loud and clear;
Whereat his horse did snort, as he
Had heard a lion roar, And galloped off with all his might,
As he had done before.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III