Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

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8o           Ballads and Songs of Michigan
For similar versions of this ballad see Henry, JAFL, XLV, i34-*35>and Pound, No. 45. There is a like situation, with a few almost identical words, "O Johnny dear, don't murder me here, for I'm not prepared to die," in versions of "The Lexington Girl," which is a version of "The Lexington Miller," a form of "The Cruel Miller," a modern English broadside. For a study of these related versions see Henry, JAFL, XLII, 247-253. It is interesting to note that all five of the Michigan texts have a similar opening stanza which is not found in other forms of the song, and that No 19 has marked resemblances to this ballad.
Version A was recorded in 1930 by Mrs. Dorothy Woodin, Harrison, from the singing of Mrs. Lucille Van Houton, Harrison, who had learned the song from Mr. Arthur Westwood, an Englishman.
1   I took a task on New Year's Eve, And a task that was to me;
I took my love out for a walk On the banks of the river Dee.
2   As we walked we gently talked
Of when our wedding day would be; But she said she would never be mine On the banks of the river Dee.
3   I drew a sword from out my side, And she gave such dreadful screams, "O Willie dear, don't murder me here, For I am not prepared to die."
4   "We say, we say that you will be mine, And your home will ever be
Where the silent waters roll On the banks of the river Dee."
5   I took her by her lily-white hand, And I swung her round and round, Swung her into the water deep, Where I stood and watched her drown.
6 That very night at twelve o'clock As I reached my father's door,

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