The Jolly Waggoner

Melody -

Traditional ballad

When first I went a-waggoning, a-waggoning did go,
I filled my parents' hearts full of sorrow, grief, and woe.
And many are the hardships that I have since gone through.
And sing wo, my lads, sing wo!
Drive on my lads, I-ho!
And who wouldn't lead the life of a jolly waggoner?

2. It is a cold and stormy night, and I'm wet to the skin,
I will bear it with contentment till I get unto the inn.
And then I'll get a drinking with the landlord and his kin.

3. Now summer it is coming, - what pleasure we shall see;
The small birds are a-singing on every green tree,
The blackbirds and the thrushes are a-whistling merrilie.

4. Now Michaelmas is coming, - what pleasure we shall find;
It will make the gold to fly, my boys, like chaff before the wind;
And every lad shall take his lass, so loving and so kind.

This song was very popular in the West of England. We may, perhaps, refer the song to the days of transition, when the waggon displaced the packhorse. In the old days, a man might die in the house he had been born in without ever having travelled above five miles away from it. The main means of communication in static, rural communities were potholed and treacherous roads and the waggoners who travelled them bearing goods, mall and gossip were important people. The dangers and hardship of their open-air life added a romantic flourish to the attraction of their roving trade and the charm of their freedom of movement. It was sung wherever waggoners went.

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