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Title Composer Description View or Listen Date Posted
Two Maidens Went Milking Anonymous 17th Century English Folk Song
Voice, violin, and guitar
Arranged by Tom Potter.
Also known as "A Small Bird or Two", or "Two Maids Went A-Milking".
mus  pdf  mid  mp3  xml 2006-08-19

Title: "Two Maidens Went Milking"

History

This is a bawdy song popular in England since the 17th century.  The tune is bright and happy, and the lyrics are full of spicy double-entendre.

Milk maids frequently appear in erotic fantasies penned by English poets and songwriters down through the centuries.  I'm not sure why milk maids were so sexy, but the fascination continues today—try a Google search for "sexy milk maid"! 

Text

Two Maidens Went Milking

Two maidens went milking one day
Two maidens went milking one day
And the wind it did blow high
And the wind it did blow low
And it toss-ed their pails to and fro, la, la, la
And it toss-ed their pails to and fro.

They met with a man they did know
They met with a man they did know
And they said, "Have you the will?"
And they said, "Have you the skill
For to catch us a small bird or two, la, la, la
For to catch us a small bird or two".

"Yes, I have an ex-cellent good skill
Yes, I have an ex-cellent good skill
If you'll come along with me
Un-der yonder flowering tree
I might catch you a small bird or two, la, la, la
I might catch you a small bird or two".

So they went and they sat 'neath a tree
So they went and they sat 'neath a tree
And the birds flew round about
Pret-ty birds flew in and out
And he caught them by one and by two, la, la, la
And he caught them by one and by two

Now my boys, let us drink down the sun
Now my boys let us drink down the moon
Take your lady to the wood
If you really think you should
You might catch her a small bird or two, la, la, la
You might catch her a small bird or two

Alternate Text

The Milk Maids' Request

THREE maidens a-milking did go,
Three maidens a-milking did go,
The wind it blew high,
And the wind it blew low,
Which tossed their pails to and fro.

They met a young swain whom they knew,
They met a young swain that they knew,
They asked of him
If he had any skill,
How to catch them a small bird or two.

O yes, I have very good skill,
0 yes, I've got very good skill,
If you'll go along with me,
To the bonnie green-wood tree,
1 will catch you a bird to your will.

To the merry green-wood as they went,
To the merry green-wood as they went,
The small birds were singing
Upon ilka green tree,
While the gay rose above the lily bent.

Ripe berries are soft to the-touch,
Ripe berries are soft to the touch,
And the birds of a feather,
They will all flock together,
Let the people say little or much.

Remarks

The tune and lyrics for the sheet music on this website are freely adapted from the "Digital Tradition" version posted at
http://www.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=77

I have made modifications to the rhythm (inserting 6/4 bars) and to the shape of the melody. The guitar accompaniment and the violin counter melodies are original works by me.

The alternate text, "The Milk Maids' Request", is from Thomas Lyle's Ancient Ballads and Songs (see below).  Many other versions of the song exist.

References

Lyle, Thomas, Ancient Ballads and Songs, Printed for L. Relfe, London, 1827 (250 pages).  Available online in Google Books.  [See page 144 for "The Milk Maids' Request".]

 

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