This song makes me tingle. The tune is from the 1960s folk clubs, the words are from a different version in a University collection in the United States. (I can’t be more precise as we are moving house and my notebooks are hundreds of miles away.)
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 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.
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.
The photo is of the excellent Milltown Cloggies.
One of my favourite traditional songs.
Millers don’t usually fare very well in British folklore, and this one was foolish enough to overplay his hand with Miss Kitty and her formidable father on The Grey Mare.
Thankyou to SeansHorseFarm.com for the photo of Pepsi.
An unusually business-like approach to courting and married life but it works.