“The Old Oaken Bucket”


"How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood, When fond recollection presents them to view...: The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket, The moss-covered bucket That hung in the well." The singer recalls being refreshed by its water

Supplemental text

Old Oaken Bucket, The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From sheet music published at an uncertain date (there is no
copyright claim) by Oliver Ditson & Co.
Title page inscribed
       THE   OLD   OAKEN
                Scotch Air
Words by Woodsworth    Music by Kiallmark

1. How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
   When fond recollection presents them to view,
   The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,
   And ev'ry love' spot which my infancy knew.
   The wide spreading stream, the mill that stood near it,
   The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell;
   The cot of my father, the dairy house by it,
   And e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well.

2. The moss-cover'd bucket I hail as a treasure,
   For often at noon when return'd from the field,
   I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
   The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
   How ardent I seized it with hands that were glowing,
   And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell;
   Then soon, with the emblem of health overflowing,
   And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well.

3. How soon from the green, mossy rim to receive it,
   As pois'd on the curb it inclined to my lips,
   Not a full flowing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
   Tho' fill'd with the nectar that Jupiter sips.
   And now far removed from the loved situation,
   The tear of regret will intrusively swell;
   As fancy reverts to my father's, plantation,
   And sighs for the bucket that hung in the well.


Samuel Woodworth's only other noteworthy composition was "The Hunters of Kentucky." His novels and plays are mercifully forgotten.

Woodworth originally published this poem under the title "The Bucket." It soon acquired several (rather feeble) tunes and the title "The Old Oaken Bucket." Around 1850, it was fitted to the tune "Araby's Daughter" by George Kiallmark; that somehow rescued it from the dustbin of nostalgia and made it into a highly popular song. - RBW

Same tune

  • The Old Family Toothbrush (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 160)
  • Nat Wills, "Parody on 'Old Oaken Bucket'" (Victor 16661/Victor 5659 [as "Old Oaken Bucket (parody)"], 1909)
  • The Old Oaken Bucket (As censored by the Board of Health) (Hazel Felleman, _The Best Loved Poems of the American People_, p. 386)


  • David Bangs, "Old Oaken Bucket" (Berliner 0600, rec. 1895)
  • Columbia Stellar Quartet, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (Columbia A-1820, 1915)
  • Jimmie Tarlton [Darby & Tarlton] "By the Old Oaken Bucket" (Columbia 15763-D, 1932; rec. 1930)
  • Edison Male Quartet, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (CYL: Edison 2216, 1897)
  • Haydn Quartet, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (Berliner 023-N, 1899)
  • Haydn Quartet w. S. Dudley, "Old Oaken Bucket" (Berliner 0873, 1898)
  • Honolulu Strollers, "Ole Oaken Bucket" (OKeh 45226, 1928)
  • Kaplan's Melodists, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (CYL: Edison [BA] 5155, c. 1926)
  • Knickerbocker Quartet, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (CYL: Edison [BA] 2046, n.d.)
  • Peerless Quartette, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (Zonophone 696, 1907) (Pathe 40032, 1916)
  • Standard Quartette, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (CYL: Columbia 2239, rec. c. 1895)
  • Anon. [Sterling Trio] "The Old Oaken Bucket" (Little Wonder 268, 1915)


  1. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 167-170, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-FSWB, p. 256, "The Old Oaken Bucket" (1 text)
  3. Fuld-WFM, pp. 413-414, "The Old Oaken Bucket"
  5. ST RJ19167 (Full)
  6. BI, RJ19167


Author: Words: Samuel Woodworth
Earliest date: 1818
Keywords: home nonballad
Found in: US