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Performer: Mills, William
Place Collected: Ablington
Date collected: Between 1913 and 1916
Collector: Williams, Alfred
Roud Number: 12899

This song was printed as a 19th century broadside as Such a Genius I Did Grow. However, it was also reprinted in several books of common songs and sprouted new verses. Mr Mills version is very close to that printed in the “Cyclopaedia of Popular Songs” (1866) but a broadside, possibly earlier, has the following verses:

When a very little boy
A cunning head was mine.
I never drank cold water
When I could get good wine.
To make a clever man of me
My father was perlex’d.
For what I learned the one day
I forgot the very next.
Oh, then I had a lovely voice
And out such tones could bring.
And soon with every tea-kettle
Duets I learned to sing.
I tried my voice upon the stage
But there it was in vain.
I sung so very bad, they made me
Sing my songs – again.

In fact, only two verses in Mr Mills’ version (verses 4-5) are found in the old broadside, which suggests some re-writing at some time. This is the only version found in oral tradition.


Notes by Gwilym Davies