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American Ballads and Folk Songs
Section men a-workin' there all side by sidej Section men a-shirkin', as the hot sun fried.
Damn be the President, My name's Mike, I got a hand in it, I drive the spike.
Mike he come from Tipperary, his name's O'Burke. Fought like he was stewed, but didn't fight to work.
A-levelin' up the road bed ain't no fun,
Nor a-drivin' down the spikes in the boilin' sun.
Heat boils down, and shakes along the blazing rails, Hangs around your head until your mind nearly fails.
Shovel in the ground when he hoists the tie; Supper time a-comin' in the sweet by 'n' by.
Mike was pilin' ties near the ditch by the road
Out among the jimpson where the boys ain't mowed.
He picked up a crosstie without much vim, Blacksnake wiggles up between his pants and him.
Mike lit out for Oklahoma, ain't come back, Showed no hesitation as he tore down the track.
* Caught up with a special, an' he hollered like a man, "Bedad, if you can't run, let me ahead wot canP
»From the Belden Collection Harvard University. Sent by J. Brown.