A Woman's Work is Never Done
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
This ballad was printed in England on broadsides in the mid 1800s. It was printed as A woman never knows when her day's work's done, A Married Woman's Work is Never Done and Woman never knows when her day's work's done, which is noted as sung to the tune Far, far upon the sea. Copies of many of these can be found at the Broadside Ballads Online.

The ballad was published in Everyman's Book of British Ballads dated 1907. This version was collected in Berkshire by Cecil Sharp and published in 1912.

Come all who roam, both old and young,
And listen to my song,
I'll tell you of a circumstance,
That will not keep you long;
I saw a man the other day,
As savage as a Turk,
And he was grumbling at his wife
And said she did no work.
So men, if you would happy be,
Don't grumble at your wife so;
For no man can imagine
What a woman has to do.


He said: You lazy huzzy!
Indeed you must confess;
For I'm a-tired of keeping you
In all your idleness.
The woman she made answer:
I work as hard as you,
And I will just run through the list
What a woman has to do.
So men, if you would happy be,
Don't grumble at your wife so;
For no man can imagine
What a woman has to do.


At six o'clock each morning
Off to your work you go;
At eight I rise to light the fire
And the bellows for to blow;
I have to set the tea things'
And get the kettle boiled;
Besides, you know, I have to wash
And dress the youngest child.
So men, if you would happy be,
Don't grumble at your wife so;
For no man can imagine
What a woman has to do.


I have to shake and make the bed,
And sweep the room also,
I have to knit, I have to spin,
I have to sit and sew;
Besides, and this you well do know,
I always make a rule
To wash and dress the little ones
And send them off to school.
So men if you would happy be,
Don't grumble at your wife so;
But think of your poor mother,
How she put up with you.


From English County Songs
See Bibliography for full information.
Also from Steve Roud's Broadside Ballad Index.