“The Drunkard's Dream (I)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1842 (broadside, Bodleian Firth b.25(31))
Keywords: dream drink love promise wife
Found in: US(Ap,MW,SE,So) Canada(Newf)


The singer meets (Dermot) and expresses surprise at how healthy and prosperous he looks. Dermot explains that he had had a dream which showed him the consequences of his actions. Awakening in relief, Dermot has reformed his ways


This song seems to have followed different paths on different sides of the Atlantic: In the U. S., it is "The Drunkard's Dream"; in Europe, "The Husband's Dream." But both versions are about drunken Dermot and his dream; while odds are that one version or the other was reworked in broadsides, I say they're the same song. - RBW

Is this a sequel to "The Wife's Dream" or is that, if it exists, just a prequel to "The Husband's Dream?"

In "The Wife's Dream" Mary explains her happy disposition though married to a drunkard by a dream she had: having wished her husband dead, she dreamed that he were and was happy at waking to find him alive but unreformed. She hopes "by patience I can change, my husband's wandering life" and then she'd "bless the hour that dream was sent to his neglected wife."

Bodleian, Harding B 11(3669), "The Wife's Dream", Walker (Durham), 1797-1834; also Firth b.27(135), Harding B 15(375a), Firth c.26(53), Harding B 11(4203), Harding B 11(4207), Harding B 11(4208), Harding B 11(4205), Harding B 18(745), Firth b.26(253), "The Wife's Dream"; Harding B 11(4206), "Wife's Dream!"

There is another "Answer to the 'Wife's Dream'": "The Drunkard Reformed" in which Dermot was about to murder Kathleen in a jealous drunken rage, but is saved in time by her prayer:

Bodleian, Harding B 11(3249), "The Reformed Rake", E. Hodge's (London), 1846-1854; also Firth b.26(205), Harding B 11(996), Harding B 11(997), Harding B 17(79a), "The Drunkard Reformed" - BS




  1. Belden, pp. 469-470, "The Drunkard's Dream" (1 text)
  2. Randolph 307, "The Drunkard's Dream" (2 texts plus a fragment, 2 tunes)
  3. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 254-256, "The Drunkard's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 307A)
  4. Eddy 101, "The Drunkard's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. JHCox 129, "The Drunkard's Dream" (2 texts)
  6. BrownIII 22, "The Drunkar's Dream (I)" (1 text plus 2 excerpts and mention of 2 more)
  7. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 366-372, "The Drunkard's Dream" (4 texts; 3 tunes on pp. 455-456)
  8. Greenleaf/Mansfield 73, "The Drunkard's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Spaeth-WeepMore, p. 193, "The Drunkard's Dream" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. O'Conor, p. 67, "The Husband's Dream" (1 text)
  12. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), pp. 210-211, "The Drunkard's Dream" (1 text)
  13. Roud #722
  14. BI, R307