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Watkins Ale

( Anonymous )

A joyful piece which doubtlessly would have been a perfect commercial tune for a sixteenth century brewery. Ensembles like the Romeros have played this tune enthusiastically, including the dance-like percussion effects.

The song appears a humorous Renaissance song with a quite weird opinion concerning plying innocent ladies with liquor. The at times ambiguous lyrics makes you question the true nature of the song. Especially considering the fact that the lady falls ill with Watkins Ale... after nine months. A period which has something familiar, I guess.

A Ditty delightfull of mother Wathkins ale,
A warning wel wayed, though counted a tale.
There was a maid this other day,
And she would needs go forth to play;
And as she walked she sighed and said,
I am afraid to die a mayd,
With that, behard a lad
What talke this maiden had,
Whereof he was full glad,
And did not spare
To say, faire mayd, I pray,
Whether goe you to play?
Good sir, she then did say,
What do you care?
For I will, without faile,
Mayden, give you Watkins ale;
Watkins ale, good sir, quoth she,
What is that I pray you tel me?

Tis sweeter farre then suger fine,
And pleasanter than muskadine:
And if you please, faire mayd, to stay,
A little while, with me to play,
I will give you the same,
Watkings ale cald by name, -
Or els I were to blame,
In truth, faire mayd.
Good sir, quoth she againe,
Yf you will take the paine,
I will not refraine
Nor be dismayd.
He toke this mayden then aside,
And led her where she was not spyde,
and told her many a prety tale,
And gave her well of Watkins ale.

When he had done to her his will,
They talkt, but what it shall not skill;
At last, quoth she, saving your tale,
Give me some more of Watkins ale,
Or else I will not stay,
For I must needs away,
- My mother bad me play,-
The time is past;
Therefore, good sir, quoth she,
If you have done with me,
Nay, soft, faire maid, quoth he,
Againe at last.
Let us take a little while,
With that the mayd began to smile,
And saide, good sir, full well I know,
Your ale, I see, runs very low.

This young man then, being so blamd,
Did bluch as one being ashamede;
He tooke her by the midle small
And gave her more of Watkins ale;
And saide, faire maid, I pray,
When you goe forth to play
Remember what I say,
Walke not alone.
Good sir, quoth she againe,
I thank you for your paine,
For feare of further staine,
I will be gone.
Farewell, mayden, the quoth he;
Adue, good sir, againe quoth she.
Thus they parted at last,
Till thrice three months were gone and past.

This mayden then fell very sicke,
Her maydenhead began to kicke,
Her colour waxed wan and pale
From taking much of Watkins ale.
I wish all maydens coy,
That heare this prety toy,
Wherein most women joy,
How they doe sport;
For surely Watkins ale,
And if it be not stale,
Will turne them to some bale,
As hath report.
New ale will make their bellies bowne,
As trial by this same is knowne;
This proverbe hath bin taught in schools,
- It is no jesting with sharp edge tooles.

Good mayden and wives,
I pardon crave,
And lack not that which you would have.
To blush it is a womans grace,
And well becometh a maiden face,
For women wil refuse
The thing that they chuse,
Cause men shoud them excuse
Of thinking ill; Cat will after kind,
All winders are not blind,
- Faire maydes, you know my mind,
Say what you will.
When you drinke ale beware the toast,
For therein lay the danger most.
If any heere offended be,
Then blame the author, blame not me