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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleDownhill of life
Roud No.1308
Collected FromHerbert, George
LocationPoulton
CountyGloucestershire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Gloucestershire: Williams, A: MS collection No Gl 122
Source SecondaryWilliams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923 p 249, 250
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

On the down hill of life when I find I am declining,
May my fate no less fortunate be
Than a snug elbow chair can afford for reclining,
And a cot that o'erlooks the wide sea;
With an ambling fat pony to pace o'er the lawn,
While I carol away idle sorrow,
And, blithe as the lark that each day hails the dawn,
Look forward in hopes of tomorrow:
Tomorrow, tomorrow,
Look forward in hopes of tomorrow:


Verse 2

From the bleak northern blast may my cot be completely
Secured by a neighbouring hill,
But at night may repose steal on me more sweetly
By the sound of a murmuring rill;
And while peace and plenty I find at my board,
With a heart free from sickness and sorrow,
With my friends will I share what today may afford,
And let them spread the table tomorrow:
Tomorrow, tomorrow,
And let them spread the table tomorrow:

Verse 3

But when I at last must throw off this frail covering,
Which I've worn for three score years and ten,
On the brink of the grave I will cease to keep hovering,
And my thread wish to spin o'er again;
But my face in a glass I'll serenely survey,
And with a smile count each wrinkle and furrow,
And this worn out old stuff which is threadbare today,
May become everlasting tomorrow,
Tomorrow, tomorrow,
May become everlasting tomorrow.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms: 'Song popular at Kempsford and Poulton.'

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: 'In the course of my enquiries I come across many songs of a moral or helpful nature, and sometimes pieces perfect in form and otherwise commendable, but which scarcely rank as folk songs. This however I admit as a folk song though it may not meet with the approbation of everyone. It is very old, having been sung in Poulton for at least a hundred years by a family of blacksmiths. Words supplied by George Herbert, the aged blacksmith, Poulton.'

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: 'I admit this as a folk song. It is old, having been sung in Poulton for at least a hundred years by a family of blacksmiths. Words supplied by George Herbert, the aged blacksmith, Poulton. Known also at Kempsfield'

Note 2

In Verse 2 Line 3 the original text read:

But at night may repose fall on me more sweetly

Note 3

A comparison of the published version of the song with this shows that it includes an additional Verse 3 with this Verse 3 becoming Verse 4. That [Gl 96] was collected in Kempsford. This is one of the few examples where it is possible to identify how Williams linked his collected versions together. That verse, which differs in print from the manuscript, is as follows:

With a porch at my door, both for shelter and shade too,
Or sunshine or rain may prevail
A small plot of ground for the use of my spade too,
And a barn for the use of my flail;
A cow for my dairy, a dog for my game
A purse when a friend wants to borrow
I'll not envy a Nabob his riches or fame
Or what honours may wait him tomorrow
Tomorrow, tomorrow,
Or what honours may wait him tomorrow

There is, in addition to Williams fair copy, another sheet which may be in the hand of George Herbert.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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