Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pretty Polly Oliver

I phoned my 91 year old mother this afternoon. She had been trying to remember the words to Polly Oliver which I asked her about last weekend. I had eventually found them on the Internet, but the words she remembered today were quite different to those on the net so I have written them down here for posterity's sake. The tune is the same though.

Oh Pretty Polly Oliver, one hot summer's day
To Milvern to market was making her way
With a basket of butter and eggs by the score
And cream from the dairy, a gallon or more.

Her basket was heavy so Polly sat down
To rest by the wayside a mile from the town.
She fell fast asleep there and woke with a scream;
Her basket was empty and spilt was her cream.

"Ah me!" cried Polly Oliver, "What now shall I do?
My master will beat me 'til I'm black and blue.
Kind powers befriend me and lend me your aid,
Take pity upon me, while fortunes are made."

From Bath came that morning the Earl riding by.
He sprang from his stirrup when he heard Polly cry.
Her story she told him; all of the strife.
"Oh pretty Polly Oliver, I'll make you my wife."

The day they were wedded she made him a cake
Of eggs cream and butter for fond memory's sake.
And every year after she made him the same
And that's how Bartholemews have come by their name.


Manu Manickvel said...

i too seem to recall this version and not so much the 'woman as man' soldier version but both are so quaint...

Manu Manickvel said...

Wonderful memory your mother has at that age - she is so lucky...

Charles Wakefield said...

I remember singing to the same tune a similar version at St Saviours Junior School in Bath in the late 40s, early 50s. I remember v.1 and final verse differently. V.1 , line 2 "To Milverton Market was making her way" Final verse last line.....and that's how Bath Olivers have come by their name." Bath Oliver Biscuits were made in Manvers Street by Cater Stoffel & Fortt. Still available. Not made by them now. They've gone. Good with cheese but a Dr Oliver's head is imprinted on the biscuit, not Polly's!

Charles Wakefield said...

Thinking further about it, this ossified brain seems to remember a change in line 1, verse 1 also, namely
As Pretty Polly Oliver one morning one day
To Milverton Market was making her way

Terry Hamblin said...

I think your version is probably more accurate. My mother is 91 and hers is probably the Chinese whispers version.