Song or Story
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"The Cambric Shirt" is one of the many British ballads chronicled by Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century. The song is titled "The Elfin Knight" in Child's collection, and "The Cambric Shirt" is one of many names of the many variations on the song.
1. “Say, young man, are you going to the fair? Fum a lum a lye fum a lye lo lee And if you see my true love there, Timmy hiddle-o a diddle-o, fum a dum a diddle-o Fum a lum a lye fum a lye lo lee.
2. “Tell her to make me a cambric shirt Without a stitch of needle work.
3. “Tell her to wash it in a dry well Where never a drop of water fell.
4. “Tell her to hang it to dry on a thorn That never had a thorn since Adam was born.”
5. “Say, young lady, are you going to the fair? And if you see my true love there,
6. “Tell him to buy me an acre of land Between salt water and sea sand.
7. “Tell him to plow it with a ram’s horn And seed it down with a peck of corn.
8. “Tell him to cut it with a peacock’s feather, And bind it up with the sting of an adder.
9. “Haul it in on the back of a snail And thrash it out with a mouse’s tail.
10. “Tell this fool when he’s done with his work To come and get his cambric shirt.”
Jennie Gray, Evelyn Huckins, Eddington, Maine, The Cambric Shirt, The Elfin Knight, Redio-Tedio, ballad, Francis James Child, Roud
Ives, Edward D., ed. “Folksongs from Maine,” Northeast Folklore, VII (1965), 87-89; Child, Francis James, ed. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Vol. I. New York: Dover Publications, 1965, 6-19 (C2); Peacock, Kenneth. Songs of the Newfoundland Outports. Vol. I. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, 6-8; and Coffin, Tristam P. The British Traditional Ballad in North America. Philadelphia: The American Folklore Society, 23-24.
Folklore | Oral History
Gray, Jennie. 1961. “The Cambric Shirt.” NA183, CD24.10. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.