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The Miller of Dee

English Folk Song

The Miller of Dee is a lighthearted English folk song that portrays the stable life of the petit-bourgeois of times past. The miller plies his trade on the River Dee and makes a fair living thanks to his water powered mill. With this sufficiency he is able to live his life without inordinate concern for material things. At the end of a day of honest work, he enjoys himself in the company of friends at the local tavern.

Other versions of the song show the miller also spending some of his few coins to help the poor or a friend in need; even when times are difficult he is still content, not envious, to see the good fortune of another. This song reminds us of an organic society, a time when men were more content with their station in life and were able to provide for themselves and others, free from the envy and avarice that is endemic to our revolutionary modern world.

The Miller of Dee was first put to paper as part of an 18th century English play, but it had existed as an unwritten folk song for some time prior. Over the years different poets have produced variations of the original, with each playing on the themes of a more ordered and tranquil time. It is here sung by the Cambridge Singers


There was a jolly miller once,
Lived on the River Dee,
He danced and sang from morn till night,
No lark so blithe as he.
And this the burden of his song,
For ever used to be:
I care for nobody, no, not I,
If nobody cares for me.

I love my mill, she is to me,
Like parent, child, and wife.
I would not change my station,
For another one in life.
Then, push, push, push the bowl, my boys,
And pass it 'round to me;
The longer we sit here and drink,
The merrier we shall be.

Thus, like the miller, bold and free,
Let us rejoice and sing.
The days of youth are made for glee,
And time is on the wing.
This song shall pass from me to thee,
Along the jovial ring.
Let heart and voice and all agree,
To sing, "Long live the King."

The Miller of Dee sheet music

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