The Milk-Maid's Life

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Melody - "Milke-Maid's Dump", Attr. to Martin Parker
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Traditional, see also The Milking Pail

You rural goddesses,
That woods and fields possess,
Assist me with your skill, that may direct my quill,
More jocundly to express,
The mirth and delight, both morning and night,
On mountain or in dale,
Of them who choose this trade to use,
And, through cold dews, do never refuse
To carry the milking-pail.

2. The bravest lasses gay,
Live not so merry as they;
In honest civil sort they make each other sport,
As they trudge on their way;
Come fair or foul weather, they're fearful of neither,
Their courages never quail.
In wet and dry, though winds be high,
And dark's the sky, they ne'er deny
To carry the milking-pail.

3. Their hearts are free from care,
They never will despair;
Whatever them befal, they bravely bear out all,
And fortune's frowns outdare.
They pleasantly sing to welcome the spring,
'Gainst heaven they never rail;
If grass well grow, their thanks they show,
And, frost or snow, they merrily go
Along with the milking-pail:

4. Base idleness they do scorn,
They rise very early i' th' morn,
And walk into the field, where pretty birds do yield
Brave music on every thorn.
The linnet and thrush do sing on each bush,
And the dulcet nightingale
Her note doth strain, by jocund vein,
To entertain that worthy train,
Which carry the milking-pail.

5. Their labour doth health preserve,
No doctor's rules they observe,
While others too nice in taking their advice,
Look always as though they would starve.
Their meat is digested, they ne'er are molested,
No sickness doth them assail;
Their time is spent in merriment,
While limbs are lent, they are content,
To carry the milking-pail.

6. Upon the first of May,
With garlands, fresh and gay,
With mirth and music sweet, for such a season meet,
They pass the time away.
They dance away sorrow, and all the day thorough
Their legs do never fail,
For they nimbly their feet do ply,
And bravely try the victory,
In honour o' the milking-pail.

7. If any think that I
Do practise flattery,
In seeking thus to raise the merry milkmaids' praise,
I'll to them thus reply:
It is their desert inviteth my art,
To study this pleasant tale;
In their defence, whose innocence,
And providence, gets honest pence
Out of the milking-pail.

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