“Blackberry Grove”

Alternate titles: “One Michaelmas Morn”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1892 (Baring-Gould and Sheppard)
Keywords: courting sex commerce farming money food animal worker
Found in: Britain(England(South))

Description

The singer is eating blackberries when he spies a milkmaid. He asks to buy milk; she says the cow has kicked over the bucket. She hints that the loan of a shilling would be quickly repaid; he takes the hint, she takes the shillings, and he takes her

Notes

Not to be confused with "Pretty Betsy the Milkmaid (Blackberry Fold)," despite their sharing a milkmaid and blackberries. Incidentally, one of the reasons milkmaids were held in such romantic esteem was for their smooth, fair, and un-pockmarked skin, which came from their contact with cowpox and resultant immunity to smallpox. - PJS

Kennedy observes that the song dates itself to Michaelmas (September 29), a day on which hired workers finished their terms and were paid off. Thus the youth would have money to spend -- and the girl would have every reason to latch onto him *now* (even if it meant spilling the milk) before he left the vicinity.

I know of no version in which the two explicitly sleep together (and can't imagine Baring-Gould printing such!), but the implication is strong. - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Kennedy 122, "Blackberry Grove" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. DT, BLKBERGR*
  3. Roud #9176
  4. BI, K122