“Miralto Me Re”

F. T. Nettleingham’s excellent intoduction to Tommy’s Tunes (1917) explains the necessity for bowdlerisation, and for the exclusion of some songs:

Soldier readers of this work will appreciate to what extent I have purged some of their favourites, and will appreciate all the more the reason I found it impossible to present even a purged version of such songs as are mentioned in the next paragraph.
With such songs as “Miralto Me Re,” ” Kafoosalem, the harlot of Jerusalem,” and ” B. Bill the Sailor,” it is worth placing on record for all time their titles, though I doubt very much whether their rhyming lines will ever find a rest in the British Museum.

Kafoosalem and Bollocky Bill are old acquaintances, of whom I am rather fond. But who or what is “Miralto Me Re”? Any suggestions would be gratefully welcomed.

2 Comments

  1. Jonathan Lighter
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    George, “Miralto Me Re” is the ad hoc, pseudo-Spanish euphemism for the male member in a well-known bawdy song. It tells, in limerick meter, the sad fate of a “gay caballero” who lived in Rio de Janeiro. There are numerous variants. Nettleingham actually ventures an expurgated version in _More Tommy’s Tunes_ (London: Erskine MacDonald, 1919), p. 81.

    • Posted November 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      Many thanks for this. The question was puzzling me. I shall take a look at “More Tommy’s Tunes” when I can. Unfortunately the Bodleian Library copy seems to be in the batch that is currently being moved to a new home in Swindon, so is unavailable.


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