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One misty, moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather….

That’s a nursery rhyme my mother would repeat on mornings like this….overcast and foggy, rainwater dripping off trees.

The first verse is all I ever knew, but it turns out that there’s a whole series of verses. The old man that the narrator meets in the first verse disappears, and the rest of the poem deals with the narrator meeting a milkmaid named Dolly a little farther down the road.

The narrator immediately sets to courting Dolly, and “with many kind embraces, I stroked her double chin.” And for once the ballad is not about seduction and abandonment: “Her parents then consented, all parties were agreed, her portion thirty shillings, we married were with speed.”

How do you do, and how do you do, and how do you do again!

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