ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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42
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
The mother refuses also, and after that the sister and brother. Then the hangman is implored to slack the rope, for True Love is coming.
" True Love, True Love, have you paid my fine, Brought your gold along? Or have you come here to-night for to see me hung, Hung on the gallows tree? "
" True Love, True Love, I have paid your fine, I 've brought my gold along, I Ve come here to-night for to set you free, Free from the gallows tree."
This old ballad, which survives in England also under the title The Prickly Bush, or The Briaty Bush (from which Floyd Dell takes the title for his novel), with a chorus not found in the American variants, has, as Professor Smith says in his article referred to above, become peculiarly the property of Negroes, at least in Vir­ginia. He gives a variant received from a Negro girl in Gloucester County, who "learned it from her grandmother," in which the treasure is a golden comb instead of a ball.
" Oh, hangman, hold your holts, I pray, 0 hold your holts a while; I think I see my grandmother A-coming down the road.
" Oh, have you found my golden comb, And have you come to set me free? Or have you come to see me hanged On the cruel hangman tree? "
Another variant, which he gives as coming from Franklin County, shows, as in the case of Mr. Swain's version from Florida and that from Louisiana, the victim as a man.
" Oh hangerman, hangerman, slack on your rope And wait a little while; I think I see my father coming
And he's travelled for many a long mile."
Maximilian Foster has told me of a different version, which he heard companies of Negro soldiers in France singing, but which he has not been able to round up for me.
All these versions, different in each state, and each showing differ­ence from the others, are true to the oral tradition which keeps the