A Riddle is a song that poses a riddle in the traditional fashion, by providing a description for the listener to guess the topic.
My pretty maid, fain would I know,
What thing it is will breed Delight,
That strives to stand, yet cannot go,
That feeds the mouth that cannot bite.
With a humbledum, grumbledum, humbledum hey.
Humbledum, grumbledum, humbledum hey.
It is a pretty pricking thing,
A pleasing and a standing thing,
It was the truncheon Mars did use,
A Bed-ward bit which maidens choose.
It is a shaft of Cupid's cut,
'Twill serve to rove, to prick, to butt;
'Twas ne'er a maid but by her will,
Will keep it in her quiver still.
It is a friar with a bald head,
A staff to beat a cuckold dead.
It is a gun that shoots point blank,
It hits betwixed a maiden's flank.
It has a head much like a mole's
And yet it loves to creep in holes.
The fairest maid that e'er took life,
For love of this became a wife.
An early source (Playford) adds an extra "grumbledum" before the "hey", although it fits a song's rhythm better without it. Also the ordering of the verses varies depending on the source.
- Thomas D'Urfey(?) (1719). Wit and mirth: or, Pills to purge melancholy Volume IV. London, Printed by W. Pearson for J. Tonson. page 71.
- The Mangy Mongol songbook, page 92, AS XLIII.
- Ed McCurdy, When Dalliance was in Flower (and Maidens Lost Their Heads) vol. 2, Elektra Records (1958).
- Audio clip of this song, performed by Ed McCurdy.