mzminola_of_old: (quiet)
[personal profile] mzminola_of_old
One of the songs my dad sang to my brother and I as a lullaby, when we were young, was a modified version of Mad Tom of Bedlam. He'd switch in our names for one of the verses about Mad Tom and Mad Maudlin, and sometimes switch in the name of my favorite stuffed animal for "shoes" in the line "to save her shoes from gravel".

This is a folks song likely originating from 1600's England, so all versions are modified versions. These are the lyrics as I remember them:



~

To see Mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand miles I’ve travelled
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
To save her shoes from gravel

And still I sing bonny boys
Bonny bonny boys
For Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare
And they live by the air
And they want for drink nor money

Went down to Satan’s kitchen
To get me food one morning
There I found souls piping hot
Upon a spit a’turning

And still I sing bonny boys
Bonny bonny boys
For Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare
And they live by the air
And they want for drink nor money

Spirits white as lightning
Upon my travels guide me
And the moon doth shake and the stars do quake
Whenever they a’spy me

And still I sing bonny boys
Bonny bonny boys
For Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare
And they live by the air
And they want for drink nor money

This staff has murdered giants
And this bag a long knife carries
For to cut mince pies from halibut sides [1]
For which to feed the ferries [2]

And still I sing bonny boys
Bonny bonny boys
For Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare
And they live by the air
And they want for drink nor money

To think that I shall murder
The man in the moon to a powder
And his dog I’ll kick and his bushel cake [3]
And there’ll howl no demon louder

And still I sing bonny boys
Bonny bonny boys
For Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare
And they live by the air
And they want for drink nor money

To see Mad Tom of Bedlam
Ten thousand years I’ve travelled
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes
To save her shoes from gravel

And still I sing bonny boys
Bonny bonny boys
For Bedlam boys are bonny
For they all go bare
And they live by the air
And they want for drink nor money

~

[1] I learned from my dad later that this line is traditionally "children's thighs" but he changed it to "halibut sides". Yay my dad!

[2] okay, so the line here is actually "for which to feed the fairies" but when I was too small to read, I didn't really have the concept of fairies yet? But my family pretty much always lived by the water, so I was pretty familiar with boats and ships and ferries. So when I was listening to the song, I'd picture a person sitting by a body of water, tossing pieces of pie to ferryboats, like how one would feed ducks. I was never clear if it was a giant sitting on a cliff, feeding normal-sized ferries, or an average-sized person feeding miniature ferries. It didn't really matter.
Maybe someday I'll try to illustrate it.

[3] I'm fairly certain "kick" and "cake" were not what my dad was singing, and I'm not sure about "bushel" but that's how I heard it. Of course, "kick" also sounded a lot closer to "cake", like..."kaik" or something. And sometimes I heard it as "bush'll bake" so who knows.

[sidenote] I heard "bonny" but it wasn't a word in my everyday vocabulary, so I thought "bunny", and I pictured boys in footie-pyjamas, with puff-ball bunny tails, and hoods with rabbit ears, skipping and dancing around fir trees in the night.



So yeah, this is one of the songs I grew up with as a lullaby. Sometimes I want to reference it, like in conversations and fic and stuff, and I'm never sure if I should.
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