Digital Tradition Mirror

The Poor Whores' Complaint

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Pennywhistle notation and Dulcimer tab for this song is also available

The Poor Whores' Complaint

Come listen a while and you shall hear
     How the poor whores fare in the winter.
They've hardly any rags to hide their wares
     Indeed 'tis a desperate thing, sir.
With their draggel tails nine inches deep
     And hardly a shoe or a stocking,
Yet if a cull they by chance should meet
     At him they will be bobbing.

Says Molly, "I think my case very hard,
     For I can get no money";
Says Nancy, "I think mine's as bad,
     For last night I earned but a penny."
All night we freeze with our cull in the cold
     Till the constable he comes early
Then he packs us away for being so bold
     So we pay for whoring severely.
Says Sally, "I think I've the worst luck of all,
     Since I have been a-whoring
I've never before been without a smock
     Although it was ne'er such a poor one.
Though I trudge the streets all night in the cold
     My rags men are pulling and haling.
Old Nick I'm sure would not be a whore
     It's grown such a hell of a calling."

Then straightaway young Nell replied,
     "What signifies complaining?
You know you're all poxed and so am I
     And that indeed's our failing.
We swarm like bees at every street end
     Catching at every fellow,
Let him be ever so poxed or clean
     We 're always ready to follow. "

There's some that wears silk and satin gay,
     'Tis them who gets the money;
With their next neighbour they slyly play
     And call him their joy and their honey.
While he with money can supply
     They're always ready to serve him,
While his poor wife and children left at home
     For bread are almost starving.

Likewise all you men with handsome wives,
     Take care they don't forsake you,
For if they want money, as sure as your life
     They will a cuckold make you.
They'll graft such a pair of horns on your head
     That you can hardly bear them,
They're such cunning jades if you don't take care
     They'll force you for to wear them.

Before those privy whores were known
     In town to be so plenty,
We common girls had better luck,
     Then men were not so dainty.
They brought to us brave English quills
     And we would bite and pinch them,
If we set them on fire at both ends at once
     The devil he may quench them.

     cull = man/customer; set them on fire = gave them the pox.
Words from a 17th century broadside; tune: Ladies of London


Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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