Ill Wife


“Ill Wife,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed June 22, 2024,

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Ill Wife


This item is part of the I. G. Greer Folksong Collection which consists of more than 300 individual song titles and their variants as collected by Isaac Garfield Greer (1881-1967) from informants, primarily in Ashe, Wilkes and Watauga counties. The collection includes manuscripts, typescript transcriptions produced by Dr. Greer’s clerical staff, and handwritten musical notations. Songs range from traditional Child Ballads, traditional English and Scottish ballads as well as their American variants, to 19th century popular music to musical compositions of local origin.


Folk songs
Marital conflict--Songs and music
Marriage--Songs and music


W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University


Greer, I. G. (Isaac Garfield), 1881-1967








The Ill Wife

As soon as I got married a happy man to be,
My wife turned out a sorrow jade, we never could agree,
For what I thought my greatest bliss was grief beyond compare,
And all the cause of my complain, she is my forever more.

For she’s a plague plaguing and she’s a plaguing me,
She’s a plague plaguing and never let’s me be.

About a week or something less, a bonny thing she was,
But err the second Sunday came, she made me cry alas!
Oh! often times I cry alas! ‘tis needless here to tell,
The wright of it lies all on this, the jade she knows herself.

My house I dare not call my own, nor anything that is in it,
And if I chance to speak a word, she flies like fire from flint.
My very hair I dare not cut, my clothes I dare not wear,
And all, both clothes and money too, she keeps me naked bare.

Right well she knows I dearly love a dainty dish of meat,
She cooks it up so dirtily, the devil abit I eat,
And if I turn my mouth awry, or chance to shake my head,
She calls me filthy boor, and says I am very ill to feed.

When I am for merriment, oh! then she’s very sad,
And when I am for soberness, she goes distracted mad.
When I wish to hear her speak, she silent sits and dumb,
And when I am for quietness, she rattles like a drum.

Yesterday my neighbor Tom and I went our throats to wet,
She thundered in my ears so loud I think I hear her yet,
And when her barleyhood is on, whicH often is the case,
The first thing that comes to her hands she dashes in my face.

That marriage is a paradise I have often heard folks tell,
But for my own part - first and last - I think its worse than hell-
And yet there is a comfort left - a comfort and no more,
The pangs of death will break the bonds and bury all my care.

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