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This erotic cameo has been around for about 300 years. The first mention is a song called “The Trooper Watering his Nage” printed in “Pills to Purge Melancholy by D’Urfy between 1698 and 1720 which has the same story and the same sexual metaphor. Bob Cross learnt his version in 1926 from a Gloucestershire coach driver who sang it a social and Bob learnt it at one hearing.
Collected versions are rare and Bob’s version is clearly a later survivor but it is possible that other versions exist – in rugby club repertoires, perhaps? Vic Gammon reports an Australian version.
Cecil Sharp collected it once in Somerset as “Balaam and Egg”, but not surprisingly never published it.