Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics:
Jamestown Flood

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The Jamestown Flood

The Jamestown Flood

Is it news you ask for, strangers, as you stand and gaze  around
At those cold and lifeless bodies lying here upon the  ground?
Do you see that lady yonder, with the little girl and  boy?
That's my wife, my darling Minnie, once my house- hold pride and joy.

Just an hour ago I brought them from the river's fatal  tide,
Laid them here where now you see them, all together  side by side.
Strangers, if you'll turn to listen to my story long and  sad,
You'll confess it is no wonder that today I'm almost mad.

We were seated at the table chatting in a happy mood,
When we heard a mighty rushing like some great and  awful flood,
Nearer! nearer! came the water, till at last it reached  our home,
O the horror of the moment when we realized our doom!

Not one moment did we tarry, but with cheeks and  brow aglow
Climbed we to the topmost chamber for how long I do  not know,
Then I clasped my wife and children to my chilled and  aching heart
For I saw that soon or later we would surely have to  part.

Faster, faster rushed the waters; tighter, tighter grew  my grasp
Til a wave of mud and fury tore both children from  my clasp
Then my wife grew faint and trembly, cold and white  her marble brow,
One low whisper, scarcely spoken; "You are all that's  left me now.

"Let your ams enfold, me, husband, lay your head  upon my breast,
O, our children, may he guide them to a place of peace  and rest;
May he spare you to me, darling, to protect"- But  while she spoke
Downward rushed a mighty current and my deathlike  grasp was broke.

Down she went, my last sweet darling, she my true and  loving wife,
She had been my joy and comfort all along the path of  life.
Just as in a dream I stood there till at last a shout  I heard,
From some men who stood above me, " Grasp the rope,  we'll help you out."

And before night's sable curtain spread across the  angry wave
I was drawn above and rescued from a cold and watery  grave,
But my darling wife and children floated on till on
They were found and carried to me, but their work on  earth was done.

Sad and mournful as I stood there, saw no signs of life or breath;
O'er my heart fell deep dark shadows as I saw them cold in death.
And a flood of thought came o'er me, overwhelming  mind and heart,
And my soul cried out within me, " 0 my loved ones,  must we part?

Fare thee well, my wife and children, in my heart  You'll ever be
Till I too shall cross the river where we will united be,
Then we'll have the joy of loving as we never loved  before,
Where no hearts are chilled and broken, in the sweet  forevermore."

Franz Lee Rickaby: Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy (1925? reprinted
Clearfield Company, Baltimore 1993)
Louise Pound: American Ballads and Songs (1920 reprinted 1972, Charles
Scribner's sons, New York)

DT #825
Laws G14
From Rickaby
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