“The Wild Man of Borneo”


Cumulative song: "The wild man of (Borneo/Poplar) has just come to town (4x)" building to "The left whisker of the flea in the hair in the tail of the dog of the daughter of the wife of the wild man of Borneo has just come to town"


[A variant version:] The fascinating witches who put the scintillating stitches in the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caractacus were just passing by." - (PJS)

The Digital Tradition credits the above tentatively to Rolf Harris. I can't prove that, but I suspect it is composed.

Caractacus was a proto-British king (son of Cunobelinus, who through the muddle of Holinshed became Shakespeare's Cymbeline). His exact date of accession is uncertain, but it was probably around 40 C. E.

At first he split power with his brother Togodumnus, but the latter died shortly after Claudius's Romans invaded Britain in 43. Caratactus continued to resist for years, mostly from Wales, but was eventually captured around 51 and spent the rest of his life in Rome.

It will presumably be evident that Caractacus didn't have much of a harem (or much time for one). I've no idea why he was picked on, rather than, say, a Persian monarch. - RBW


  • Carl Jones, "Wild Man of Borneo" (OKeh 45516, 1931; rec. 1930)


  1. Kennedy 311, "The Wild Man of Borneo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Creighton/Senior, pp. 258, "The Wild Man of Borneo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Roud #2145
  5. BI, K311


Alternate titles: “The Court of King Caractacus”; “The Wild Man from Poplar”; “Dyn Bach o Fangor”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1908 (collected from Charles Neville)
Found in: Britain(Wales,England(South)) Canada(Mar) Australia