I Wish I Was Single Again

I wish I was Single Again is an excellent example of lyrical poetry – a poem set to music or designed to be – and in this case the limerick; arguably “the oldest form of poetry in the western world still in common use today”*.  The “setting” is AABBA: first and second line of equal meter and rhyme, followed by two shorter lines of equal meter and rhyme, and the last following the same meter as the first two and sharing their rhyme or similar enough.  It is a very versatile method of quick meter and popular for centuries, much like how the haiku has become to western culture in recent years.  The tune is the same as “Coming ‘Round The Mountain“, but sung more like a waltz, not so fast.

The story of the song is evident enough and illustrates the common complaint of someone badly married; it could, in fact, be the voice of either gender.  The humour is wry and perhaps not meant for anyone determined that song expression should reflect their own morals.  The picture below is an image of the old tradition in the British Isles of “wife selling” and is best explained by the link provided.  This is meant to help describe the grousing of the narrator in the story of the song, although clearly it is not wife-selling that parts him from his wife herein.  All that said, let it not be regarded that we endorse the mindset of separating from one’s spouse by auctioning her/him off… Just observing the historical fact and the humour intended within the song.

* So my English teacher said back in high school days… Bicker amongst yourselves.

Jos. Morneault

 

"Selling a Wife" by Thomas Rowlandson, 1812-14. Repost from The Georgian Bawdyhouse.

“Selling a Wife” by Thomas Rowlandson, 1812-14. Repost from The Georgian Bawdyhouse.

Chorus:

I wish I was single again.
I wish I was single again.
For when I was single,
My pockets would jingle,
I wish I was single again.

I married a wife, Oh then.
I married a wife, Oh then,
I married a wife,
She’s the plague of my LIfe,
And I wished I was single again.           Chorus

My wife caught a fever, O then
My wife caught a fever, O then
My wife caught a fever
I hope it won’t leave her
I wish I was single again           Chorus

My wife she died, Oh then.
My wife she died, Oh then,
My wife she died,
I laughed ’till I cried,
To think I was single again.        Chorus

I went to her wake, oh then.
I went to her wake, oh then.
I went to her wake,
But not for her sake,
But to view the fair maidens again.        Chorus

I went to her funeral, O then
I went to her funeral, O then
The band it did play
I danced all the way
To think I was single again             Chorus

I married another, Oh then, Oh then,
I married another, Oh then,
I married another,
She’s worse than the other,
And I wished I was single again!         Chorus

 

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