Fathom The Bowl

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Melody -
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from William Alexander Barrett, 1891

Come all you bold heroes; give ear to my song
I’ll sing in the praise of good brandy and rum
There’s a clear fountain, near England shall flow
Hand me the punch ladle I’ll fathom the bowl.
Chorus:
I’ll fathom the bowl; I’ll fathom the bowl
Hand me the punch ladle, I’ll fathom the bowl.

2. From France we do get brandy, from Jamaica comes rum
While sweet oranges and lemons from Portugal come
Strong beer and good cider, o’er England shall flow
Hand me the punch ladle, I’ll fathom the bowl.
Chorus:

3. My wife she comes in, when I sit at my ease
She scolds and she grumbles, and she does as she please
She may scold and she may grumble till her face is black as coal
Hand me the punch ladle I’ll fathom the bowl.
Chorus:

4. My father, he lies in the depth of the sea
With stones at his feet, what matters for he?
There’s a clear fountain near him it doth roll
Hand me the punch ladle I’ll fathom the bowl.
Chorus:


Barrett noted his budget of songs at harvest homes, sheep shearings, ploughing matches and from itinerant ballad-singers.
Alfred Williams collected in the countryside around the Upper Thames in the early part of this century and found Fathom the Bowl sung all the way from Malmesbury to Oxford. His singers usually followed it with a spoken toast, a pithy and familiar bit of folk wisdom:

Here's to the large bee that flies so high!
The small bee gathers the honey,
The poor man he does all the work,
The rich man pockets the money.

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