“Three Maidens to Milking Did Go”

Alternate titles: “The Blackbird in the Bush”; “The Bird in the Lily-Bush”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1856 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(3968)); tune listed from 1828)
Keywords: bird hunting courting seduction
Found in: Britain(England(All),Wales)

Description

"The maidens to milking did go (x2), And the wind it did blow high and the wind it did blow low And it tossed the milking pails to and fro." The singer asks a friend to help him hunt "birds." The singer wishes luck to blackbird and thrush

Notes

Most printed versions of this are "clean," but clearly there is much going on beneath the surface.... - RBW

Indeed, there is. In fact, this is one of the few descriptions of group sex in traditional music -- unless, of course, you count "The Ball at Kerriemuir," and I'd be more inclined to describe that with the word "mob." - PJS

Cross references

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Kennedy 191, "Three Maidens to Milking Did Go" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 280-281, "Three Maidens" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. MacSeegTrav 50, "The Bird in the Bush" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 160, "Two Maids Went A-Milking One Day" (1 text)
  5. Roud #290
  6. BI, K191