Flanders and Swann – Madeira M’Dear

Madeira M’Dear is a strange song, and uses words and phrases that are not/were not common.  Obviously it’s meaning is less appreciated in 2017 underage sex elimination times, than it was when the song was originally performed.

It was first released by Michael Flanders in October 1959.

Is it funny to sing about a chaste minor being made intoxicated by an older man so as to have sex with her. The song raises all sorts of issues: date rape, abuse of a minor, lack of consent, supply of alcohol to a minor, the risk of pregnancy or disease . . .
Is it made less innocuous by the fact that she wakes “with a smile on her lips”, or is it worse, suggesting that she really wanted it all along, the “All She Really Needed Was a Good …” philosophy.


Lyrics to Flanders and Swann – Madeira M’Dear

She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice
She was fair, she was sweet seventeen
He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice
He was base, he was bad, he was mean
He had slyly inveigled* her up to his flat
To view his collection of stamps
And he said as he hastened to put out the cat
The wine, his cigar and the lamps

Have some madeira**, m’dear
You really have nothing to fear
I’m not trying to tempt you, that wouldn’t be right
You shouldn’t drink spirits at this time of night
Have some madeira, m’dear
It’s really much nicer than beer
I don’t care for sherry, one cannot drink stout
And port*** is a wine I can well do without
It’s simply a case of chacun a son gout
Have some madeira, m’dear

Unaware of the wiles of the snake-in-the-grass
And the fate of the maiden who topes****
She lowered her standards by raising her glass
Her courage, her eyes and his hopes
She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did
He promptly refilled it again
And he said as he secretly carved one more notch
On the butt of his gold-headed cane

Have some madeira, m’dear, I’ve got a small cask of it here
And once it’s been opened, you know it won’t keep
Do finish it up, it will help you to sleep
Have some madeira, m’dear, it’s really an excellent year
Now if it were gin, you’d be wrong to say yes
The evil gin does would be hard to assess
Besides it’s inclined to affect me prowess
Have some madeira, m’dear

Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate***** breath
“Oh my child, should you look on the wine that is red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death”
She let go her glass with a shrill little cry
Crash! tinkle! it fell to the floor
When he asked, “What in Heaven?” she made no reply,
Up her mind, and a dash for the door

Have some madeira, m’dear, rang out down the hall loud and clear
A tremulous cry that was filled with despair
As she paused to take breath in the cool midnight air
Have some madeira, m’dear, the words seemed to ring in her ear
Until the next morning, she woke up in bed
With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head
And a voice in her ear ‘ole that tickled and said
Have some madeira, m’dear

*=persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery.

**=Madeira is a Portuguese wine

***=”port” is a type of fortified wine

****=”topes” is to drink alcohol to excess, especially on a regular basis.

*****=internet shows meaning as “Last but two in a series; third last.” which makes NO sense to me.

MEANING:  “And he said as he secretly carved one more notch On the butt of his gold-headed cane” = he added a notch on his cane as some add a “notch” to their bedpost.

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