Anonimo (sec. XVII): Cold and Raw ovvero The Maid who Sold her Barley o anche The Farmer’s Daughter, ballad di probabile origine scozzese. The Baltimore Consort.
Cold and raw the North did blow, bleak in a morning early;
All the trees were hid with snow, cover’d with winter fearly.
As I came riding o’er the slough, I met with a farmer’s daughter,
Rosie cheeks, and bonny brow, geud faith, made my mouth to water.
Down I vail’d my bonnet low, meaning to show my breeding,
She return’d a graceful bow, her visage far exceeding:
I ask’d her where she went so soon, and long’d to begin a parley:
She told me to the next market town, a purpose to sell her barley.
«In this purse, sweet soul!» said I, «twenty pound lies fairly,
Seek no farther one to buy, for I’se take all thy barley:
Twenty more shall purchase delight, thy person I love so dearly,
If thou wilt lig by me all night, and gang home in the morning early.»
«If forty pound would buy the globe, this thing I’s not do, sir;
Or were my friends as poor as Job, I’d never raise’em so, sir:
For shou’d you prove to-night my friend, we’se get a young kid together,
And you’d be gone e’r nine months end, & where shall I find the father?»
«Pray what would my parents say, if I should be so silly,
To give my maidenhead away, and lose my true love, Billy!
Oh this would bring me to disgrace, and therefore I say you nay, sir;
And if that you would me embrace, first marry, & then you may, sir!»
I told her I had wedded been, fourteen years and longer,
Else I’d chuse her for my queen, and tye the knot yet stronger.
She bid me then no farther roame, but manage my wedlock fairly,
And keep my purse for poor spouse at home, for some other should have her barley.
Then as swift as any roe, she rode away and left me;
After her I could not go, of joy she quite bereft me:
Thus I my self did disappoint, for she did leave me fairly,
My words knock’d all things out of joint, I lost both the maid and the barley.
Il testo è compreso nella monumentale silloge Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy curata da Thomas D’Urfey, la cui 1a edizione risale al 1698; nel corso degli anni è stato associato a musiche diverse: la versione del Baltimore Consort adotta la melodia di Stingo, or The Oyle of Barley, un jig (danza) tratta dalla raccolta The English dancing master (16511) di John Playford; stingo e oil of barley sono due modi di dire popolari con i quali si indicava all’epoca una birra forte a gradazione elevata.
La melodia doveva essere assai popolare nel primo Settecento, tant’è vero che Pepusch la utilizzò per rivestire di musica l’aria «If any Wench Venus’s Girdle wear», cantata da Mrs Peachum nella 4a scena del I atto della Beggar’s Opera di John Gay (rappresentata per la 1a volta nel 1728).
If any Wench Venus’s Girdle wear,
Though she be never so ugly;
Lilies and Roses will quickly appear,
And her Face look wond’rous smugly.
Beneath the left Ear so fit but a Cord,
(A Rope so charming a Zone is!)
The Youth in his Cart hath the Air of a Lord,
And we cry, There dies an Adonis!
(Non mi è chiaro perché, nella clip, la musica sia associata a immagini tratte da un ben noto videogioco. Ma tant’è: a volte, si sa, bisogna fare di necessità virtù.)