Over the Hill and Over the Dale

Keats Dawlish Fair letter  to james RiceOne of the interesting aspects of research is the discrepancies you find. I had planned this post for 25th March because one source which I had assumed to be reliable had given that as the date when Keats wrote this short poem. It was wrong. The poem was written yesterday, 24th March, 196 years ago. Written in Teignmouth it’s actually about Dawlish Fair on Easter Monday (23rd March). I’ve tracked down a copy of the original letter which contained this fragment of verse. Here’s the copy, here’s the verse and if you want to know more follow the link at the end.

Over The Hill And Over The Dale

John Keats, 24th March 1818

Over the hill and over the dale,
And over the bourn to Dawlish —
Where gingerbread wives have a scanty sale
And gingerbread nuts are smallish.

Rantipole Betty she ran down a hill
And kicked up her petticoats fairly;
Says I I’ll be Jack if you will be Gill —
So she sat on the grass debonairly.

Here’s somebody coming, here’s somebody coming!
Says I ’tis the wind at a parley;
So without any fuss any hawing and humming
She lay on the grass debonairly.

Here’s somebody here and here’s somebody there!
Says I hold your tongue you young Gipsey;
So she held her tongue and lay plump and fair
And dead as a Venus tipsy.

O who wouldn’t hie to Dawlish fair,
O who wouldn’t stop in a Meadow,
O who would not rumple the daisies there
And make the wild fern for a bed do!

 

Want to know more?  Check out ‘Keats and Over Hill and Over Dale

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