Travel the Country Round
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This ballad was collected by Lucy Broadwood in Sussex in 1893. It appears in her collection English Traditional Songs and Carols (1908).

The devil is also sometimes sung as "Old Harry," and singers often put local towns in place of Reading and Oxford.

I am a jovial ranger,
I fear no kind of danger,
To sorrow I'm a stranger,
And so let mirth abound.
I once had a fit of loving,
But, that contrary proving,
It set my mind a-roving
To travel the country round!

When first of all I started,
From all my friends I parted,
All almost broken hearted,
Alas! what grief I found!
Till London had fairly touched me,
No part of comfort reached me,
The devil had surely bewitched me
To travel the country round!

When up to London I wandered
A deal of money I squandered,
I masters tried a hundred,
No work was to be found.
And as I wandered up and down,
Some called me "a fool,"
     some "country clown,"
And bade me get out of their fine town
To travel the country round!

Now I grew quite dejected,
As well might be expected,
Myself I then directed
To Reading, and was "bound."
As soon as I had arrived there,
Some work for me was contrived there,
And I for awhile was depriv'd there,
From trav'lling the country round!

Six months, or more, I tarried,
Till of Reading I grew wearied,
My roaming fancy fired
To see some other town.
To Oxford then I hasted,
A week or more I wasted,
As long as my money lasted
I travelled the country round.

So now in Oxford my station;
And here, to my vexation,
A foolish new temptation
To rest awhile I found.
A maid I met so pretty,
So good, so wise, so witty,
I thought it were surely a pity
To travel the country round.

Now I the case must alter,
For fear that I should falter,
And be led in a halter
To church (a dismal sound!)
I made a resolution,
Which I put in execution,
It suited my constitution
To travel the country round.

So now at home I'm seated,
My travels are all completed,
These words I have repeated,
So awhile I'll sit me down;
Quite cured of all my moving,
As well as of all my loving,
I'll go no more a roving
To travel the country round.

From English Traditional Songs and Carols
See Bibliography for full information.