It was one summer's morning,
As I lay on my bed,
I spied an ancient spider,
A-spinning of her thread.
She wove it in a sunny beam,
As clear as glass might be;
The oldest nun that ever spun
Ne'er spun so fine as she.
The first that came into the net.
A silly fly, was slain;
The next that came, a hornet bold,
Soon broke the net in twain.
And so I ofttimes wonder why
Are poor men brought to shame,
While rich men live in vanity,
And all men praise their name.
O if I had but Agur's wish,
And it might come to me,
That I were neither poor nor rich,
How happy I should be!
For riches are but vanity,
I heard the wise man cry,
And when you think to hold them fast,
Away from you they fly.
If rich men would advis-ed be,
And stewards would be just,
And to their tenants frank and free,
When they are put in trust;
The hump from off the camel's back
Would easily be shaven;
The camel pass the needle's eye,
The rich man enter heaven.
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Source: Broadwood, Lucy, 1893, English Country Songs, Leadenhall Press, London
Lucy Broadwood wrote:
From Miss Mason's Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs. The words, taken down from a peasant, were disentangled and partly re-written by the Rev. Canon Edward Mason.
This is given as one of the songs from Derbyshire. I suspect the 'part' re-written by the Reverend Canon must be in the majority. "Agur's wish", for example, refers to chapter 30 of the book of Proverbs. Some of the relevant verses are:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me,
Grant me neither poverty nor riches,
grant me only my share of bread to eat,
for fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away
and say "Yahweh - who is Yahweh?"
(Jerusalem Version of the Bible)
Roud: 1372 (Search Roud index at VWML)