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Steeleye Span – The Weaver And The Factory Maid lyrics

The Weaver and the Factory Maid

Oh, when I was a tailor, I carried my bodkin and shears.
When I was a weaver, I carried my roods and my gear.
My temples also, my small clothes and reed in my hand.
And wherever I go, here's the jolly bold weaver again.

I'm a hand weaver to my trade.
I fell in love with a factory maid,
And if I could but her favour win,
I'd stand beside her and weave by steam.

My father to me scornful said,
How could you fancy a factory maid?
When you could have girls fine and gay
Dressed like unto the queen of May.

As for your fine girls I don't care
If I could but enjoy my dear,
I'd stand in the factory all the day
And she and I'd keep our shuttles in play.

I went to my love's bedroom door
Where often times I had been before,
But I could not speak nor yet get in
The pleasant bed that my love laid in.

How can you say it's a pleasant bed,
When nowt lies there but a factory maid?
A factory lass although she be,
Blest is the man that enjoys she.

O pleasant thoughts come to my mind
As I turn down the sheets so fine,
And I seen her two breasts standing so,
Like two white hills all covered with snow.

The loom goes click and the loom goes clack
The shuttle flies forward and then flies back.
The weaver's so bent that he's like to crack,
Such a wearisome trade is the weaver.

The yarn is made into cloth at last,
The ends of the weft they are made quite fast,
The weaver's labours are now all past,
Such a wearisome trade is the weaver.

Where are the girls, I will tell you plain:
The girls have gone to weave by steam,
And if you'd find them you must rise at dawn
And trudge to the mill in the early morn

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  • k
    This is the story of a skilled weaver falling in love with a girl who works in a steam loom factory. During the Industrial Revolution, skilled craftsman were in the process of being replaced by machinery (in this case, a steam loom) and this led to a series of revolts from the middle class tradesman (see Ned Ludd). For a hand weaver to be with a factory girl would be considered an abomination from the weaver's family and fellow craftsmen, and hence the irony of the song.
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  • u
    Interesting that the weaver apparently started out as a tailor. Why the switch? I'm also curious as to how he "came to his love's bedroom door" and even got in there to turn down the sheets to expose the two white hills all covered in snow. All in all, a bit of a bawdy tune, as kurt has alluded to, about the mismatch of classes and how important that was in england (well, a lot of countries, to be fair), especially during the time of the industrial revolution. Read jane austen!
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