Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sing Hey, the Alice Notley and the Tar

Hats off to Norman Finkelstein for realizing that Alice Notley's "Margaret and Dusty" (posted last week) is a rewriting of the Mother Goose rhyme "Dusty Miller," to wit:
Margaret wrote a letter,
Sealed it with her finger,
Threw it in the dam
For the dusty miller.
Dusty was his coat,
Dusty was the siller,
Dusty was the kiss
I'd from the dusty miller.
If I had my pockets
Full of gold and siller,
I would give it all
To my dusty miller.
There seems to be a Robert Burns poem that rewrites this as well:
Hey, the Dusty Miller

Hey, the dusty Miller,
And his dusty coat,
He will win a shilling,
Or he spend a groat:
Dusty was the coat,
Dusty was the colour,
Dusty was the kiss
That I gat frae the Miller.

Hey, the dusty Miller,
And his dusty sack;
Leeze me on the calling
Fills the dusty peck:
Fills the dusty peck,
Brings the dusty siller;
I wad gie my coatie
For the dusty Miller.
I don't know what to do with this new knowledge yet, but when I teach the poem next, I'm sure it will come in handy. In the mean time, I'm off for a dram o' the finest.

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