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i2o Ballads and Songs of Michigan
Cox, p. 292, prints a text of this song and finds it interesting because by means of the many versions of it throughout the United States there may be traced the genesis and development of an American folk song. According to him, the tragedy related in the song took place at Wilbraham, Massachusetts, in 1761. For a history of the song see L. W. Payne, "Songs and Ballads," PTFLS, VI, 209-212. For additional versions and references see Pound, No. 42 See also Eddy, No. 99; Flanders and Brown, pp. 15-18; Henry, JAFL, XLIV, 116-117; XLV, 175-176; Hudson, JAFL, XXXIX, 163-164; Lomax, pp 315-317; Sharp, II, 166-167; and Grace P. Smith, JAFL, XLIX, 263-265. For a comparison and discussion of texts see Bulletin, No. 11, pp 13-15.
Version A was communicated in 1916 by Miss Cora Hopkins, a student in Michigan State Normal College, Ypsilana. She had memorized this song twenty years earlier from hearing it sung in Bay City by an old man who had learned it during his youth in New York State.
1 On Springfield mountain there did dwell A lovely youth; I knew him well.
2 One day the lovely youth did go Down in the medder for to mow.
3 He had not mowed more than half the field When a pesky sarpent bit his heel.
4 He laid right down all on the ground;
He shut up both eyes and looked all around.
5 They carried him to his Sally dear; "O Johnny dear, why did you go Down in the medder for to mow?"
6 "Why, Sally dear, I thought you knowed;
It was daddy's grass and it must be mowed."
7 At length he died, gave up the ghost,
And straight to Abraham's bosom he did post.
8 Singing, singing as he went, "O cruel, cruel sar-pi-ent!"