Modern Street Ballads


Good people all draw near, and listen to my ditty,
A song to you I’ll sing, that is both short and pretty,
There’s countrymen and maids, with their sweet and ruddy faces,
Link’d in each other’s arms,—they’re coming to the races.

Here’s Coaches and Tandems, there’s Gigs and Carts likewise, Sir,
And ladies grandly dress’d, with dandy cap beside Sir,
They have a cabbage net to cover o’er their faces
With a footman at their heels, they’re coming to the races.

Now look at the Grand Stand, where the gentlemen are sitting,
Whilst the horses run the course, hundreds of them are betting,
Some win a handsome sum, and others pull wry faces,

As they are going home, wish they’d never seen the races.
The time it being arrived, the bell it is rung loudly,
The horses are well bred, they walk the course so proudly,
The gentlemen in red, so gallant in their places,
The course for to keep clear always at the races.

The horses then do start, O! what a row and pother.
They push and shove away, one tumbling o’er another,
Here’s girls upon the course, with their fine rings and lockets,
But while the horses run, I’d have you mind your pockets.

There’s spruce Eliza Long, and Polly, Kate, and Sukey,
Besides, there’s Molly Ruff, remarkable for beauty;
There’s pretty lasses gay, who are fond of men’s embraces,
But if you don’t take care, they’ll make you curse the races.

And when the heat is o’er, into the booth they’ll toddle,
They drink of gin and ale, till it affects their noddle:
While your money lasts, they’ll use you very civil,
But when your blunt is gone, they’ll kick you like the devil.

The next unto the shows, the people are advancing,
The show folks on the stage like puppets are a dancing,
The showman bawls aloud, “Come in and take your places,
I’ll show you Punch and Nan, now you’ve come to the Races.”

Here’s wheelbarrows with nuts, here’s pies and tarts likewise, Sir,
All for to please your taste, if you’re inclin’d to buy, Sir;
Here’s the best of beef and ham, and muffins too, and crumpets,
Lark whistles, rattles, drums, and also wooden trumpets.

When the races they are o’er, and money growing short, Sir,
There’s many a luckless wight may with reason curse the sport, Sir,
The finest race you’ll see, when the horse races are over,
Will be unto the house where three balls the door hangs over.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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