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Hangman, hangman, wait a while,
Wait a little while. Yonder comes my father — he
Has travelled many a weary mile.
"Father, father; did you bring
The diamond ring to set me free? Or did you come to see me hung Upon this lonesome tree? "
"No, no. I did not bring
The diamond ring to set you free; But I come to see you hung Upon this lonesome tree."
The other relatives follow in order, and then the last hope appears.
"Sweetheart, sweetheart, did you bring," etc.
"Yes, yes, I did bring
The diamond ring to set you free. I did not come to see you hung Upon this lonesome tree."
Clement Wood (who sings Negro songs delightfully in his lectures on Negro literature) gave me some fragments.
Down in de place whar I come from
Dey feed dose coons on hard-parched cawn;
Dey swell up an' dey get so fat
Dat dey could n't get deir heads in a Number Ten hat.
The chorus to this is the well-known You Shall Be Free.
Another bit that Mr. Wood gave is about a character that figures often in folk-lore, but less often in Negro folk-song:
Did you ever see de devil Wid his hoe and pick and shovel Jus' a; scratchm* up de ground At his oV front do'?
That is from John Wyatt, a Negro peddler, seventy years old, from Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. The lines are like some I learned in Texas years ago from Dr. John T. Harrington:
Did you ever see de devil Wid his iron wooden shovel Tearin' up de yearth Wid his big toe-nail?