Portum Quartum


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 was, 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 Old Couple


The traditional argument about who does the most work in a marriage continues to this day, so I’ve heard, but the old couple in our song settled the matter to their own satisfaction.

The hen in the photo looks like a speckled Sussex and the pig probably a Piétrain. The ploughing illustration is from the Stapleton Collection. I don’t know the artist.