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It's of an old farmer as I've heard tell,
Had a wicked old wife and he wished her in hell,
With my titty fa lol wack fol de rol,
Titty fa laddle di, titty fa lol;
Titty fa lol, whack fol de rol,
Titty fa laddle di titty fa lol.

The devil he came to the old man at plough,
Saying, 'I want your wife and I'll take her now.'

'Oh, take my old woman with all my heart;
I hope you and her will never more apart.'

He shoved the old woman into a sack,
And away he went with her slung on his back.

He tipped her out when he came to hell's gate,
Saying, 'Here's an old woman who'll make me a mate.'

And all the young imps they raised up a din:
'Oh, take her away, she'll do us all in.'

He shoved the old woman into a sack,
And to the old farmer he took her straight back.

So that ends the story and you'll all agree
That women are worse then men could ever be.

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Source: Everyman's Book of English Ballads ed. Roy Palmer.

Palmer notes:
Sung by Walter Pardon, Knapton, Norfolk; Collected by Mike Yates, 26. 4. 1978. Child no. 278, 'The Farmer Curst His Wife'

The rejection by the devil of a termagant wife who terrorizes his demons has elements widely known both in Europe and the Orient. The ballad, however, is relatively modern, the earliest printed version 'improved' by Robert Burns having appeared in 1792.

Roud: 160 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 278

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