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Go from my Window

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Performer: Smith, Wisdom
Place Collected: Cheltenham
Date collected: 1974 (Feb)
Collector: Yates, Mike
Roud Number: 966

This song is seriously old and quite rare.  It may go back to the late 16th Century as the stationer John Wolfe printed a song called Go from my Window in 1587, but the text of this song has been lost.  It was certainly known in 1613 when these stanzas were printed in Beaufort and Fletcher’s play The Knight of the Burning Pestle

‘Go from my window love, go
Go from my window my dear
The wind and the rain will drive you back again,
Thou canst not be lodged here.’

Begone, begone, my juggy, my puggy
Begone, my love, my dear.
The weather is warm
‘Twill do thee no harm,
Thou canst not be lodged here.

In the 1613 play, the song is sung in a comic scene but since then, the song has taken on a life of its own, usually in the form of cante-fable, i.e. a story that is partly sung and partly spoken.  There are variations on the detail but basically it is a woman singing out through the window to her lover to warn him off, sometimes because she is in h her lover and so singing to tell the husband to go away and sometimes to warn off the lover as her husband is at home.  She sometimes uses the subterfuge of pretending to sing a lullaby to the baby but that lullaby contains the coded message.

A variant of these explanations was given by Mr Smith, who told the collector Mike Yates:

”You understand, don’t you, that it was a gypsy woman singing that song.  She sang it in her trailer.  Her husband was out poaching, you see, and a policeman was waiting to catch him in the trailer when he returned.  Now the woman heard her husband coming, so she warned him not to come in.  She took her baby in her arms, because it wasn’t sleeping, and sang that song.  The policeman thought that she was singing the baby to sleep, but she wasn’t, she was warning her husband not to come into the trailer.  That’s true, that is.”

The song has turned up in oral tradition from time to time on both sides of the Atlantic and in recent times in Ireland and Scotland but rarely in England.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 28 June 2016