Australian Folk Songs

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The Darby Ram (1867)

We think the following song of "The Darby Ram" fairly entitled to go into our column of "Wit and Humor."
But before giving it we should state that the ballad is a century old, and is republished, with many others,
by Llewellyn Jewitt, F.S.A., in a volume of the ballads and songs of Derbyshire. It is grotesquely absurd,
and withal so irresistibly comic, that one cannot help enjoying its quaint conceits. We read that this
ludicrous ballad is so identified with Derby that many years ago a sort of Derby Punch was published under
the title of the Derby Ram ; and still more remarkable, as late as 1855, a regiment of Derbyshire militia
trained a ram to march in front of them as one of the staff of the regiment. Such is the hold which ancient
traditions, superstitions, and ballads often exercise on the public mind. The ballad is as follows :--

As I was going to Darby, Sir,
All on a market day,
I met the finest Ram, Sir,
That ever was fed on hay.
Daddle-i-day, daddle-i-day,
Fal-de-ral, fal-de-ral, daddle-i-day.

This Ram was fat behind, Sir,
This Ram was fat before,
This Ram was ten yards high, Sir,
Indeed he was no more.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The wool upon his back, Sir,
Reached up unto the sky,
The eagles made their nests there, Sir,
For I heard the young ones cry.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The wool upon his belly, Sir,
It dragged upon the ground,
It was sold in Darby town, Sir,
For forty thousand pound.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The space between his horns, Sir,
Was as far as a man could reach,
And there they built a pulpit,
For the parson there to preach.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The teeth that were in his mouth, Sir,
Were like a regiment of men;
And the tongue that hung between them, Sir,
Would have dined them twice and again.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

This Ram jumped o'er a wall, Sir.
His tail caught on a briar,
It reached from Darby town, Sir,
All into Leicestershire.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

And of this tail so long, Sir,
Twas ten miles and an ell,
They made a goodly rope, Sir,
To toll the market bell.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

This Ram had four legs to walk on, Sir,
This Ram had four legs to stand,
And every leg he had, Sir,
Stood on an acre of land.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The butcher that killed this Ram, Sir,
Was drownded in the blood,
And the boy that held the pail, Sir,
Was carried away in the flood.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

All the maids in Darby, Sir,
Came begging for his horns,
To take them to coopers,
To make them milking gowns.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The little boys of Derby, Sir,
They came to beg his eyes,
To kick about the streets, Sir,
For they wore football size.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The tanner that tanned its hide, Sir,
Would never be poor any more,
For when he had tanned and retched it,
It covered all Sinfin Moor.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

The Jaws that were in his head, Sir,
They were so fine and thin,
They're sold to a Methodist Parson,
For a pulpit to preach in.
Daddle-i-day, &c.

Indeed, Sir, this is true, Sir,
I never was taught to lie,
And had you been to Derby, Sir,
You'd have seen it as well as I,
Daddle-i-day. daddle-i-day,
Fal-de-ral, fal-de-ral, daddle-i-day.


From the Adelaide Newspaper the South Australian Weekly Chronicle 24 Aug 1867 p. 3.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory