By chance I once had a long and enjoyable conversation with a Polish priest who, like me, collected children’s street songs, rhymes and games. Unlike me he spoke several languages and had travelled extensively throughout Europe. I sang him some songs and showed him some clapping games and he contributed some comments and versions he’d gathered.
Portum, Quartum, far from containing a meaningless jumble of words were, he said, an old folk memory of some Latin, which he’d encountered in several countries. ‘do-men-we’, for example, was a corruption of Domine (Lord). Now you know!
The final verse of this rather gentle toast to the fairer sex was written on the back page of my 1969 notebook, and may not belong to that song at all, but it fits, so I included it on this recording, just in case.
I remember swapping one of my songs for A Sailor Courted at a late night sing-around at my host’s house after my booking at their folk club in the 1970s, but I’m sorry to say I don’t recall the club or the singer.