Verse 1: 'All ye Wifes in this Town / Thats moved for your Men, / And ye that puts on Mourning deep / When they are dead for them;' This ballad was apparently 'Composed by one of her own SEXES'.
'The Widdow's Rant' features a widow whose late husband is rumoured to be haunting her because of her affairs with other men and spendthrift ways. The widow claims she was driven to infidelity by her husband's fleas, and the ballad ends with her finding a new man who has the 'skill' of 'killing fleas, and healing stings, / which tempted her most ill.' This song was apparently sung at a wedding, but whether the 'widow' in the poem was meant to represent the new bride is unknown! Interestingly, the widow's name in the title is not the same as in the poem.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable date of publication:
1700 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(010)
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