“Foggy Dew” is an English folk song. The song describes the outcome of an affair between a young weaver and a girl he courted for some time. She initially comes to his bed because she is afraid of the "foggy, foggy dew" but it seems she often returned. Early versions of the song refer to her fear of the "bugaboo" rather than the foggy dew.
"Foggy, Foggy Dew"
The song is a lamentful 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 1940s, claimed that a version dated to colonial America, and he was once jailed in Mona, Utah, for singing it in public, when authorities deemed it a bawdy song. BBC Radio likewise restricted broadcast of the song to programmes covering folk tunes or the works of Benjamin Britten. The tune is a late 18th or early 19th century revision of "When I First Came To Court", licensed in 1689.
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.
A further penultimate verse is:
When morning came She said to me Oh sir I am undone Oh hold your row You silly young gal The foggy dew is gone
- Norm Cohen, Folk Music: A Regional Exploration, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, p.286.
- The Foggy Dew
- Burl Ives (1948). The Wayfarying Stranger. New York: Whittlesey House, pp. 129-131.
- Russell Davies (21 September 2008). Russell Davies. BBC Radio 2.
- Version from Folksongs Arr. Benjamin Britten, Perf. Peter Pears, London Records