"Revolutionary Tea"


How many of you guys drink starbucks or just love to drink tea and coffee? Imagine if America said you can only drink Bibby coffee and there would be a very expensive tax on it. Wouldn’t that be terrible? This is exactly what happened when Britain placed a tax on all of the tea in the thirteen colonies. Except it wasn't Bigby Coffee but it was the British India Tea Company. This poem perfectly explains how the colonists felt when the British taxed the colonists. You might get a little confused on why the story is about a mother and a daughter but really this poem has allegory in it, which means that there is a hidden meaning. The mother in the poem represents England and the daughter is the colonists living in the new world. There are more examples in the poem, but these are the major ones you will need to know.

The Poem:

There was an old lady lived over the sea

And she was an island queen.

Her daughter lived off in a new country

With an ocean of water between.

The old lady's pockets were full of gold

But never contented was she,

So she called on her daughter to pay her a tax

Of three pence a pound on her tea,

Of three pence a pound on her tea.

"Now, mother, dear mother," the daughter replied,

"I shan't do the thing you ax.

I'm willing to pay a fair price for the tea,

But never the three-penny tax."

"You shall," quoth the mother, and reddened with rage,

"For you're my own daughter, you see,

And sure 'tis quite proper the daughter should pay

Her mother a tax on her tea,

Her mother a tax on her tea."

And so the old lady her servant called up

And packed off a budget of tea;

And eager for three pence a pound, she put in

Enough for a large family.

She ordered her servant to bring home the tax,

Declaring her child should obey,

Or old as she was, and almost full grown,

She'd half whip her life away,

She'd half whip her life away.

The tea was conveyed to the daughter's door,

All down by the ocean's side,

And the bouncing girl poured out every pound

In the dark and boiling tide;

And then she called out to the island queen,

"Oh, mother, dear mother," quoth she,

"Your tea you may have when 'tis steeped quite enough

But never a tax from me,

But never a tax from me."

Poetry Elements

Repetition- the action of repeating something that has already been said or written.

Ex. from the poem:

“But never a tax from me/ But never a tax from me."


the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

Ex. from the poem: “Pence a pound." or "Reddened with rage.”


a word from a sound associated with what is named.

Ex. from the poem: "Whip."

Rhyme Scheme- the ordered pattern of rhymes at the ends of the lines of a poem or verse.

Ex. from the poem: In stanza number 1 the first four lines.

Diction- the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing.

Ex. from the poem: "Ax" They said ax because the author is giving a sense that this is old world talk from Britain.

Imagery- visually descriptive or figurative language, esp. in a literary work.

Ex. from the poem: "In the dark and boiling tide..." This gives a sense that it is night time but people are hyped up in the poem.

Stanza- a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem; a verse.

Ex. from the poem: Look at the poem.

Allegory- We went over this in the beginning, but definition is a hidden meaning in a story or a poem.

Ex. from this poem: Old Lady- Great Britain

Daughter- the colonists in the New World.

Old Lady's pockets- The economy of Great Britain

Her servants- The tax collectors