Retoure My Dear Dell

Retoure My Dear Dell
From The New Canting Dictionary.


Each darkmans I pass in an old shady grove, 1 night
And live not the lightmans I toute not my love, 2 day; see
I surtoute every walk, which we used to pass, 3 know well
And couch me down weeping, and kiss the cold grass: 4 lie
  I cry out on my mort to pity my pain,
  And all our vagaries remember again.


Didst thou know, my dear doxy, but half of the smart 5 mistress
Which has seized on my panter, since thou didst depart; 6 heart
Didst thou hear but my sighs, my complaining and groans,
Thou’dst surely retoure, and pity my moans: 7 return
Thou’dst give me new pleasure for all my past pain,
And I should rejoice in thy glaziers again. 8 eyes


But alas! ’tis my fear that the false Patri-coe 9 hedge-priest
Is reaping those transports are only my due:
Retoure, my dear doxy, oh, once more retoure,
And I’ll do all to please thee that lies in my power:
Then be kind, my dear dell, and pity my pain,
And let me once more toute thy glaziers again


On redshanks and tibs thou shalt every day dine, 10 turkey; geese
And if it should e’er be my hard fate to trine, 11 hang
I never will whiddle, I never will squeek, 12 speak
Nor to save my colquarron endanger thy neck, 13 neck
Then once more, my doxy, be kind and retoure,
And thou shalt want nothing that lies in my power.


See Note to “The Canter’s Serenade.” This song appears to be a variation of a much older one, generally ascribed to Chas II, entitled I pass all my hours in a shady old grove.

Taken from Musa Pedestris, Three Centuries of Canting Songs and Slang Rhymes [1536―1896], collected and annotated by John S. Farmer.

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. . .
The High Pad’s Boast
The Merry Beggars
A Mort’s Drinking Song
A Beggar I’ll Be
A Budg And Snudg Song
The Maunder’s Praise Of His Strowling Mort
The Rum-Mort’s Praise Of Her Faithless Maunder
The Black Procession
Frisky Moll’s Song
The Canter’s Serenade
Retoure My Dear Dell
The Vain Dreamer
When My Dimber Dell I Courted
The Oath Of The Canting Crew
Come All You Buffers Gay
The Potato Man
A Slang Pastoral
Ye Scamps, Ye Pads, Ye Divers
The Sandman’s Wedding
The Happy Pair
The Bunter’s Christening
. . .