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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
weepiper Lyr Req: Farmer can't do wife's work. Help (28) Lyr Add: THE WIFE OF AUCHTERMUCHTY (1568) 08 Dec 01


Here's a translation of the 1568 version I have (sorry, I don't have a proper source for it - I only have it on a photocopied handout from a university linguistic course and all it gives is the title (The Wyf of Awchtirmwchty) and date)

In Auchtermuchty there lived a man,
A husband, as I heard it told,
Who well could tipple from a can,
And loved neither hunger nor the cold.
Now once it fell upon a day,
He yoked his plough upon the plain,
If it is true as I heard say,
The day was foul for wind and rain.

He loosed the plough at the field's end
And drove his oxen home at evening;
When he came in, he looked inside,
And saw the wife both dry and clean,
And sitting at the fire, warming herself all bold,
With a big drink, as I heard say:
The man being very wet and cold,
Between those two it was no play.

Said he, 'Where is my horse's corn?
My ox has neither straw nor hay.
Dame, you can go to the plough the morn,
And I'll play housie, if I may.'
'Husband', said she, 'Content am I
To take the plough my turn about,
So you may rule both hens and cows
And all the house, both in and out.

But since you know housework inside out,
First you shall sift, and then shall knead,
And whilst you're going in and out,
Look that the babies shit not the bed;
And lay soft kindling to the kiln;
We have a pricey farm in our charge.
And whilst you're going out and in,
Keep well the goslings from the hawk.'

The wife was up right late that evening,
(I pray God should damn her eyes!)
She churned the churn and skimmed it clean,
And left the goodman but the buttermilk bare.
Then in the morning up she got,
And in her stomach laid her breakfast;
She put as much in her lap
As might have served them both at noon.

She says, 'Jock, will you be master of work?,
If you should win and I should lose,
I promise you a good new shirt,
And the kind of cloth, you'll get to choose.'
She loosed oxen eight or nine
And hefted a good staff in her hand.
The goodman rose soon after then,
And saw the wife had done command;

He called the goslings forth to feed,
There were but seven of them all -
And by there comes the hungry hawk,
And licked up five, left him but two.
Then out he ran making moan
As soon as he heard the goslings cry:
But before he could come in again
The calves broke loose and suckled the cows.

The calves and cows having met in the lane,
The goodman ran with a rake to redd:
Then by there came an ill-willed cow
And prodded his buttock until it bled.
Then home he ran to a lump of tow
And he sat down to try the spinning;
I fear he left it too near the fire:
Said he, 'This work has ill beginning'.

Then to the churn he did run,
And mixed it fiercely while he sweated:
A full hour's mixing he had done
But decent butter, he couldn't get it.
Albeit no butter he could get,
Yet he was bothered by the churn,
And soon he heated the milk so hot
That never a spark of it would turn.

Then in there came a greedy sow -
I think he gave her little thanks -
And in she shot her mighty mouth,
And long she winked and she drank.
He snatched up a crooked club,
And thought to hit the sow to rout:
The two goslings that the hawk had left
That stroke dang both their brains out.

Then he bore kindling to the kiln
But it went up all in a fire;
Whatever he heard, whatever he saw
That day it made him want to swear.
Then he went to take up the kids,
Thought to have found them clean and nice;
The first that he got in his arms
Was all bedirten to the eyes.

The first that he got in his arms
It was all dirty up to the eyes:
'The devil cut off their hands' said he
'That filled you all so full as this!'
He trailed the foul sheets out the gate
Thought to wash them on a stone;
The stream was risen great of spate:
Away from him the sheets have gone.

Then up he got on a hill top
On her to cry, on her to shout;
She heard him and she heard him not,
But stoutly steered the plough about;
She drove the day into the night,
She loosed the plough and then came home,
She found all wrong that should be right:
I think the man felt right great shame.

Said he, 'My office I forsake,
For all the days of my life -
For I'd have put a house to wreck
Had I been twenty days goodwife.'
Said she, 'You'll put up with the place,
For truly I will never accept it.'
Said he, 'Devil take the liar's face!
But yet you may be blythe to get it.'

Then up she took a mighty rung,
And the goodman made to the door:
Said he, 'Dame, I'll hold my tongue,
For if we fight you'll win the war.'
Said he, 'When I forsook my plough
I swear I but forsook mysel';
And I'm off to my plough again -
For I and this house will never do well.'


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