Henry's Songbook

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Fathom The Bowl

  • Trad

    I'll fathom the bowl, I'll fathom the bowl
    Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

    Come all you bold heroes, give an ear to my song
    And well sing in the praise of good brandy and rum
    There's a clear crystal fountain near England shall roll
    Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

    From France we do get brandy, from Jamaica comes rum
    Sweet oranges and apples from Portugal come
    But stout and strong cider are England's control
    Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

    My wife she do disturb me when I'm laid at my ease
    She does as she likes and she says as she please
    My wife, she's a devil, she's black as the coal
    Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

    My father he do lie in the depths of the sea
    With no stone at his head but what matters for he
    There's a clear crystal fountain, near England shall roll
    Give me the punch ladle, I'll fathom the bowl

    (as sung by The Watersons)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1966:] This rousing and convivial song may be found in the collection of English songs made by William Alexander Barrett and published in 1891. Barrett noted his budget of songs at harvest homes, sheep shearings, ploughing matches and from itinerant ballad-singers (like the ones interviewed by Mayhew and his team of early sociologists in mid-Victorian times) who still lifted up their cracked voices in the city streets. - 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.

    (A. L. Lloyd, notes 'The Watersons')

  • [1979:] 'Punch' comes from the Hindi word, panch (five), because of its five ingredients, spirit, water, lemon-juice, sugar and spices. The word was first recorded in English in 1669, but I would estimate the song to date from about a century later. I cannot help feeling that it has overtones of smuggling, for customs duties were very high at the time, and ordinary people would seldom have been able to enjoy punch made from spirits acquired through legitimate channels. The mysterious last verse may well refer to a dead smuggler. This is speculation. What is sure, is that the song was popular in country districts long after the passing of the old smugglers. Alfred Williams, for example, found it 'fairly well known from Malmesbury to Oxford' in 1914-16 (Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, 1923, p. 88). (Palmer, Country 198)

Watersons Website

Quelle: England

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aktualisiert am 02.11.1999