Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Sally In The Garden" (Siftin Sand) Lyrics & Comments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents the lyrics for the well known old fiddle tune & sea shanty "Sally In The Garden".

This post is a companion to the previous pancocojams post Various (Somewhat Discreetly Worded) Meanings Of "Hog-Eye" and "Hog-Eye Man".

Click for information about "Sally In The Garden", and "Hog Eye Man" songs.

The content of this post is provided for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the collectors and the featured performers of this song. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

[The first "Sally in the garden sifting sand" line in these examples is italics to highlight it.]

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Marianne (from Harry Belafonte)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 05:46 PM

re: "sifting sand"

1906 Gilchrist, Annie G., Frank Kidson, Lucy E. Broadwood, Cecil J. Sharp, and J.A. Fuller-Maitland. "Sailors' Songs, Collected by Annie G. Gilchrist." Journal of the Folk-Song Society 2(9): 236-249.

Gilchrist got this chanty ca.1906-06 from a Mr. W. Bolton, a 66 yr old retired sailor of 35 yrs (merchant and navy), last voyage in 1887.

THE HAWK'S-EYE MAN. Capstan Chanty.

Oh, the 'awk's-eye man is the man for me,
And when he comes ashore he has a jolly spree,
And the 'awk's-eye—
Roll the boat ashore, And the 'awk's-eye—
Roll the boat ashore, And the 'awk's-eye, Ho!
She wants the 'awk's-eye man.

Scraps of other verses were recollected as follows:

Sally in the garden sifting sand,
And Jenny in the house with the hawk's-eye man.

With his hawk's-eye ...
And when he comes ashore
He rattles at my door,
Oh, Johnnie is my hawk's-eye man.

1917 Robinson, Captain John. "Songs of the Chanty-Man: IV." The Bellman 23(577) (4 Aug. 1917): 123-128.

It's possible that the words of this one were edited for publication.

The Ox-eyed Man.

The ox-eyed man is the man for me,
For he is blind and he cannot see,
With his ox-eye,
[cho.] I knew an old ni&&&r* with an ox-eye!
Row the boat ashore, with the ox-eye,
All she wants is the ox-eyed man!

"The girl on the shore, whose name is Sall,
Is waiting there, for the ox-eyed man.

"Sall is in the garden, picking peas,
Here long brown ringlets hang to her knees.

"Sall is on the beach, a-sifting sand,
And is thinking much of the ox-eyed man.

"Go home, Sall, he will come no more,
For he got drowned, as he rowed ashore."
*This word that is commonly known now as the "n word" is fully spelled out in these lyrics.

Example #2

Chicken in the bread tray, pecking that dough (or kicking up dough)
Sally will your dog bit, no sir no
(then straight into)
Chorus 1: Sallys in the garden, sifting, sifting
Sally’s in the garden, sifting sand

Sally’s in the garden, sifting, sifting
Sally’s in the garden sifting sand
Chorus 1: Sally’s in the garden sifting, sifting
Sally’s upstairs with the hogeye man

Sally’s in the garden, sifting, sifting
Sally’s in the garden sifting sand
Chorus 1. Sally’s in the garden sifting, sifting
Sally’s upstairs with the hogeye man

Sally will your dog bite, no sir, no
Daddy cut his biter off a long time ago
Chorus 2 Sally’s in the garden sifting sand
Sally’s upstairs with a hog-eyed man

This version is also known as "Granny Will Your Dog Bite" and "Chicken In The Bread Tray". A text version of that song is included in Thomas W. Talley's now classic 1922 collection Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Otherwise. Click for that example.

The colloquial meaning of a woman "sifting sand" is an allusion to prostitution with the location of those acts being on the beach. Early examples of the Calypso song [All Day All Night] "Mary Ann" refer to Mary Ann down by the sea side sifting sand". Those examples were much more bawdy than the folk version that is most commonly known today. Read examples of those versions in the Mudcat thread on "Marianne" whose link is found above.

Click for information, comments, and examples of the phrase & song "Hog Eye Man".

I believe that the most relevant definition that fits the above songs is that a "hog eye man" (or "hawk eye man" or ox eyed man") is a womanizer, a man who is very sexually active (with women), similar to "Jody", the African American folk character & the military cadence character.
Notice that this song refers to an interracial "relationship" between a Black man and a White woman (i.e. "Here [sic] long brown ringlets hang to her knees."):

There are a number of banjo & other instrumental versions of "Sally In The Garden" (sifting sand) that can be found online. Among those videos are and

However, I've not yet found any vocal renditions of this song on YouTube or anywhere else online.

There are numerous parodies of the song "Sally In The Garden". Among those parodies is one that was popularized by author Kurt Vonnegut

Sally in the garden,
Siftin' cinders,
Lifted up her leg,
And farted like a man,
The bursting of her bloomers broke sixteen winders,
The cheeks of her ass went (blam, blam, blam)”
―Kurt Vonnegut

Click for [earlier?] examples of that parody.

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  1. You might like YouTube clip - English folk trio Faustus singing 'The Ox-Eyed Man'.

    1. Thanks Peter for that information!

      Here's a link to that rendition of Ox Eyed Man:

  2. compliments for good job !
    my review in


    E’ una vecchia melodia per violino – musica appalacchiana (per gli spartiti qui). Al momento ho trovato solo la linea di canto interpretata da J. D. Cornett in Classic Old-Time Fiddle from Smithsonian Folkways

    traccia 103
    Sally’s in the garden, sifting, sifting
    Sally’s in the garden sifting sand
    Sally’s in the garden sifting, sifting
    Sally’s upstairs with the hogeye man