Down-Hall. A Ballad.

Tune. - 'King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.'

I sing not old Jason who travell'd through Greece
To kiss the fair maids and possess the rich fleece,
Nor sing I AEneas, who, led by his mother,
Got rid of one wife and went far for another.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Nor him who through Asia and Europe did roam,
Ulysses by name, who ne'er cared to go home,
But rather desired to see cities and men
Than return to his farms and converse with old Pen.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Hang Homer and Virgil; their meaning to seek,
A man must have poked into Latin and Greek;
Those who love their own tongue we have reason to hope,
Have read them translated by Dryden and Pope.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

But I sing of exploits that have lately been done
By two British heroes call'd Matthew and John,
And how they rid friendly from fine London town,
Fair Essex to see, and a place they call Down.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Now ere they went out, you may rightly suppose
How much they discoursed both in prudence and prose:
For before this great journey was thoroughly concerted,
Full often they met, and as often they parted.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

And thus Matthew said, look you here my friend John,
I fairly have travell'd years thirty and one,
And though I still carried my Sovereign's warrants,
I only have gone upon other folks errands.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

And now in this journey of life I would have
A place where to bait 'twixt the court and the grave,
Where joyful to live, not unwilling to die -
Gadzooks, I had just a place in my eye.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

There are gardens so stately, and arbours so thick,
A portal of stone, and a fabric of brick;
The matter next week shall be all in your power;
But the money, Gadzooks, must be paid in an hour.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

For things in this world must by law be made certain;
We both must repair unto Oliver Martin,
For he is a lawyer of worthy renown,
I'll bring you to see he must fix you at Down.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Quoth Matthew, I know that from Berwick to Dover
You've sold all our premises over and over;
And now if your buyers and sellers agree
You may throw all our acres into the South-sea.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

But a word to the purpose; to-morrow, dear friend,
We'll sea what to-night you so highly commend,
And if with a garden and house I am bless'd,
Let the devil and Coningsby go with the rest.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Then answer'd Squire Morley, pray get a calash,
That in summer may burn, in winter may splash;
I love dirt and dust; and 'tis always my pleasure
To take with me much of the soil that I measure.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

But Matthew thought better, for Matthew thought right,
And hired a chariot so trim and so tight,
That extremes both of winter and summer might pass,
For one window was canvas, the other was glass.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Draw up, quoth friend Matthew; pull down, quoth friend John,
We shall be both hotter and colder anon:
Thus talking and scolding they forward did speed,
And Ralpho paced by under Newman the Swede.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Into an old inn did this equipage roll,
At a town they call Hodsdon, the sign of the Bull,
Near a nymph with an urn, that divides the highway,
And into a puddle throws mother of tea.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Come here, my sweet landlady, pray, how d'ye do?
Where is Cicily so cleanly, and Prudence, and Sue?
And where is the widow that dwelt here below?
And the ostler that sung about eight years ago?

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

And where is your sister, so mild and so dear?
Whose voice to her maids like a trumpet was clear.
By my troth, she replies, you grow younger I think;
And pray, Sir, what wine does the gentleman drink?

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

Why now let me die, Sir, or live upon trust,
If I know to which question to answer you first:
Why things since I saw you most strangely have varied?
The ostler is hang'd, and the widow is married.

Derry down, down, hey derry down.

And Prue left a child for the parish to nurse,
And Cicily went off with a gentleman's purse;
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

4:02 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme a bbcc D eeff D gghh D ijdd D kkll D jixx D xxmm D nncc D iidd D ccaa D oopp D qqcc D rrss D jdtt D xxxa D uuvv D wwxx D xxtt D xa
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,112
Words 795
Stanzas 38
Stanza Lengths 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 4, 1, 2

Matthew Prior

Matthew Prior was an English poet and diplomat. more…

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