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Dame Durdan

[ Roud 1209 ; Ballad Index K293 ; trad.]

Maddy Prior and June Tabor sang this ditty in 1976 on their album Silly Sisters. They learned it from Bob and Ron Copper of Rottingdean, Sussex, who sang it on the anthology Songs of Courtship (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 1; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968), on the Copper Family's 4 LP collection A Song for Every Season (1971) and on their CD Coppersongs 3: The Legacy Continues (1998).

The sleeve notes of Silly Sisters explain:

General consensus of opinion on meaning of Draggletail: raggetty arsed old boiler.

Lyrics

Dame Durdan kept five servant maids
To carry the milking pail
She also kept five labouring men
To use the spade and flail

Chorus
'Twas Moll and Bet and Doll and Kit
And Dolly to drag her tail
'Twas Tom and Dick and Joe and Jack
And Humphrey with his flail
Then Tom kissed Molly and Dick kissed Betty
And Joe kissed Dolly and Jack kissed Kitty
And Humphrey with his flail
And Kitty she was a charming girl
To carry the milking pail

Dame Durdan in the morn so soon
She did begin to call
To rouse her servants, maids and men
She did begin to bawl

Chorus

'Twas on the morn of Valentine
When birds begin to prate
Dame Durdan and her maids and men
They all together meet

Chorus
'Twas Moll and Bet and Doll and Kit
And Dolly to drag her tail
'Twas Tom and Dick and Joe and Jack
And Humphrey with his flail
Then Tom kissed Molly and Dick kissed Betty
And Joe kissed Dolly and Jack kissed Kitty
And Humphrey with his flail
Kiss Dorothy Draggletail
And Kitty she was a charming girl
To carry the milking pail