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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54
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
"I've been washing this basin the live-long day To catch your heart's blood in." "Pray spare my life, pray spare my life, Pray spare my life!" cried he.
"I'll not spare your life, I'll not spare your life," cried she.
"Pray put my Bible at my head, My prayer-book at my feet. If any of my playmates ask for me, Oh, tell them I'm dead and asleep."
She dragged him on his cooling-board,
And stabbed him like a sheep. She threw him into a dusky well
Where many have fallen asleep.
This is recognizable as the old ballad, The Jew's Daughter, telling a tale of the supposed murder of a little boy by a Jewess. Matthew Prior refers to the occasion which is thought to form the basis for this, as of the date of 1255. Chaucer uses the plot for his "Prioresse's Tale/' the piteous story of the innocent done to death.
William Wells Newell, in his u Games and Songs of American Children," gives another variant, called Little Harry Hughes, and says that he was surprised to hear a group of colored children in the streets of New York singing it. He questioned the children and traced their knowledge of the song to a little Negro girl who had learned it from her grandmother. The grandmother, he found, had learned it in Ireland
Professor Smith gives an interesting version, which was given to him by a student at the University of Virginia, who had learned it from his Negro mammy on a plantation in Alabama.
My ball flew over in a Jew's garden,
Where no one dared to go. I saw a Jew lady in a green silk dress
A-standin' by the do'.
"0 come in, come in, my pretty little boy, You may have your ball again." "I won't, I won't, I won't come in, Because my heart is blood."
She took me then by her lily-white hand,
And led me in the kitchen, She sot me down on a golden plank,
And stobbed me like a sheep.