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At Junior School, in the mid-1950s, I came across a poem entitled "The Boaster".

IIRC it ran to several verses, each one ending in "I'm from our village, our village. I'm my father's son", and otherwise consisted of various silly boasts. One that sticks in my mind is "I've in town three houses fine. When I've bought them they'll be mine".

I've never come across it online. Does anyone else recognise it or know where it is in print? I'm pretty sure it was an English rhyme.

2 Answers 2

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As Rand al'Thor discovered, The Boaster was a song transmitted as part of the BBC's Time and Tune series for schools, way back in the Spring Term of 1956. To help music teachers, the BBC provided pamphlets of the songs and words, for the princely sum of sixpence, so that pupils could sing along. These pamphlets are often on sale on eBay, and a quick search turned up the Spring 1956 copy, complete with views of some of the interior pages. Fortunately, one of the pages on view is of The Boaster:

Left: "Time and Tune" front cover from the BBC; Right: Sheet music for "The Boaster"

Only one verse is covered, and it is the one recalled by the OP:

I'm from our village, our village,
I'm my father's son.
I've in town three houses fine.
When I've bought them they'll be mine.

The end-notes of the pamphlet reveal that The Boaster was originally published in "Children's Songs from Bohemia" published by Novello & Co. Ltd. This is sufficient to obtain the original sheet music:

Left: Cover of "Children's Songs from Bohemia"; Right: sheet music for "The Boaster"

So it appears that the melody is from a Bohemian folk-song (arranged by Gordon Reynolds), and the words - or poem - in the question were written by C.K. Offer. Thanks to commenter Gareth Rees, it appears that the words are a resonable, but somewhat free, translation of the Czech folksong "Já jsem z Kutný Hory" ("I'm from Kutná Hora"):

I'm from Kutná Hora, 
A caulker's son. 
I have three houses in Prague, 
When I buy them, they'll be mine.

It is a pity, however, that we still only know one verse!

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  • Great answer! I did a bit of searching and the original source seems to be the Czech folk song "Já jsem z Kutný Hory" ("I'm from Kutná Hora") Oct 11, 2022 at 19:32
  • The words are "Já jsem z Kutné Hory, z Kutné Hory, koudelníkův syn. Já mám v Praze tři domy, až je koupím, budou mý" ("I'm from Kutná Hora, a caulker's son. I have three houses in Prague, when I buy them, they'll be mine.") There does not seem to be another verse. Oct 11, 2022 at 19:41
  • @GarethRees Great! That must surely be the last link in the chain. Oct 11, 2022 at 21:28
  • Yes. I'm sure this is it.
    – Mike Stone
    Oct 12, 2022 at 8:30
  • Great find! I didn't think to go searching for eBay previews :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 12, 2022 at 9:59
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Well, this was a fun one to research ... Skip to the end if you just want the answer, but I'm going to go through the whole research process in case anyone else can pick up the trail and do better.

  • Not knowing how many of the details you'd remembered precisely, I decided that the rhyme between "fine" and "mine" was something unlikely to be misremembered. So I tried a Google search for poem "houses fine" when i've bought them "they'll be mine", and found three results, two being this Lit.SE question and one this forum thread, where someone remembered the following lines from a poetry collection called Time and Tune:

    Over there three houses fine
    When I've bought them they'll be mine

    I'm from our village, our village
    I'm my father's son.

  • Now we've got something to go on! I looked up about this Time and Tune and learned that it's a very long-running course for teaching music to British schoolchildren. It started in 1951, which fits with your memory being from the mid '50s, and apparently is still running today.

  • Next I searched for bbc "time and tune" boaster, and discovered that indeed there was at least one poem called "The Boaster": this title appears in both the 1956 Spring collection and the 1961 Summer collection. Could either/both of these be what you're looking for?

  • No, or at least maybe. A forum poster named Michael Thomas was asking after a poem called "The Boaster" from 1956 or 1961, and he was directed to this link. Unfortunately, that poem is called "The Boaster" but isn't the one you're looking for. However, it's not what Michael Thomas was looking for either; in fact, it seems he was looking for the same thing as you:

    Dear Nigel: thank you for your reply. It wasn't that one, though it's a great song and thank you for posting it. I remember a couple of lines from the one I'm trying to find:
    I've in town three houses fine
    When I've bought them they'll be mine,
    I'm from our village, our village,
    I'm my father's son.
    with thanks and best wishes,
    Michael

  • Not sure where to go next. Searching the Mudcat site for instances of the word "boaster" only turned up the pages that I've already linked above. Even searching Google for bbc "time and tune" "the boaster" didn't give me any more information beyond what's already above.

TL;DR: the poem you're looking for is somewhere in the BBC Time and Tune collection, probably from either Spring 1956 or Summer 1961, although at least one of these may also be a completely different poem entitled "The Boaster".

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