In medieval England wandering minstrels were a popular source of entertainment, recounting the latest events in ballad form as well as singing old favorites. In legend Richard Lionhearts minstrel, Blondel, travelled all over Europe looking for his master secretly imprisoned by the Duke of Austria. Coming to a castle with one solitary prisoner he sang the first half of a song which Richard had helped him compose. When the prisoner finished the tune he knew it was Richard and returned to England with his news.
This minstrel, sitting footsore on a wall with his lute and meager possessions, barked at by a dog, must have been pleased to see the lady of the castle appear with a page carrying refreshments. On the base is the phrase “a merryman moping mum” from a ballad sung by Jack Point in Gilbert and Sullivans operetta “Yeomen of the Guard”.
Its the song of a merryman moping mum,
Whose soul was sad, and whose glance was glum,
Who supped no sup, and who crayed no crumb,
As he sighed for the love of a ladye.