Drunken Rent Collector

Words : Dick Gaughan / Music : Trad.

Nou A ken that young fowk like tae hear a new sang
Sae A'll sing ye this ane, it's no very lang
O an auld rent collector the truth A will tell
Whae thocht that ae nicht he wis gaun doun tae Hell

Ae nicht this rentman had collected his load
An his pouches were stuffed fu o siller an gowd
Then intae an alehous refreshin hissel
Th'auld rentman got bleezin the truth for tae tell

He got sae blin drunk that he fell tae the grun
An like a fat sow he wis wallowin aroun
Juist nigh tae a coal pit this rentman did lie
Whan fower or five colliers chanst tae pass by

Thae shouthert him up like a peddlar's pack
An wiout delay flung him ower thair back
Then intae the bucket thae handit him doun
The drunk rent collector thae took undergrun

The rentman woke up in a terrible fear
Then up jumps a collier, says, "Whit brocht ye here?"
An thinkin the collier wis Auld Nick hissel
The rentman, he cries out, "Ma Goad, A'm in Hell!"

Says the collier, "Whit wis ye in the warl up above?"
"Sir, A wis the rentman that naebody luves
Bit indeed, Mister Deivil, the truth A will tell
A'll be whit ye want me tae be here in Hell"

"Och, sin ye're a rentman, that ye maun remain
An ye'll never get out o this dark place again
For the gates thae are shut an thae'll haud ye secure
Tae pay for yer evils in robbin the puir"

"O, please Mister Deivil, tak pity oan me
An A'll mak ye a bargain as true as ye'll see
A never will rob ony puir fowk again
If ye'll juist set me free fae these infernal chains"

"Gie me aa the money that ye haud in store
An ye can return tae yer ain native shore"
"Ye can tak every penny!" the auld rentman roared
An he gied tae the collier his siller an gowd

Whan back tae the surface the rentman wis taen
He wis aff like a shot an wis neer seen again
An the money the miners had taen wi thair game
Thae went roun aa the houses an gied back again

Sae here's tae the colliers that wark undergrun
Thae're the cleverest men that can ever be fun
An here's tae the rentman that aye cudnae tell
The difference atween a deep coal mine an Hell


Song Notes

One of the favourite themes in traditional song is that of "turning the tables", or getting our own back. This one is a rewrite of a song called "The Drunken Exciseman" in A.L. Lloyd's "Come All Ye Bold Miners". The tune is a variant of the common Irish tune known variously as "Erin go Bragh" or "Master McGrath".

celtic knotwork


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