FOGGY FOGGY DEW
The first song of this title was of English origin, sometimes called “Foggy, Foggy Dew”,
and is a lament ballad of a young lover. It was published on a broadside around 1815,
though there are very many versions: Cecil Sharp collected eight versions. Burl Ives, who
popularized the song in the United States in the 1940’s, claimed that a version dated to
colonial America. Ives was once jailed in Mona, Utah, for singing it in public, when
authorities deemed it a bawdy song. The tune is a late 18th or early 19th century revision
of “When I First Came To Court”, licensed in 1689.
Popular conceptions of the meaning of this song are that the gentleman bachelor talked
his servant, a fair young maid, into staying overnight rather than walk home in order to
protect her from “the foggy, foggy dew.” This ultimately resulted in an unplanned
pregnancy. After giving birth, the woman either died or went away. The gentleman raised
his illegitimate son on his own and did not marry, since he is still a bachelor at the end of
When I was a bachelor, I liv’d all alone
I worked at the weaver’s trade
And the only, only thing that I ever did wrong
Was to woo a fair young maid.
I wooed her in the wintertime
And in the summer, too
And the only, only thing that I did that was wrong
Was to keep her from the foggy, foggy dew.
One night she came to my bedside
When I was fast asleep.
She laid her head upon my bed
And she began to weep.
She sighed, she cried, she damn near died
She said what shall I do?
So I hauled her into bed and covered up her head
Just to keep her from the foggy foggy dew.
So, I am a bachelor, I live with my son
and we work at the weaver’s trade.
And every single time that I look into his eyes
He reminds me of that fair young maid.
He reminds me of the wintertime
And of the summer, too,
And of the many, many times that I held her in my arms
Just to keep her from the foggy, foggy, dew.