The Bank of the Little Auplaine (2)

One evening in June as I rambled
Through the green woods and meadows alone,
The meadow larks warbled melodious,
And merrily the whipporwill sung;
The frogs in the marshes were croaking,
The tree-toads were whistling for rain,
And the partridge all around me were drumming,
On the banks of the Little Auplaine.

The sun to the West a-declining,
Had shaded the tree tops with red,
My wandering feet led me onward,
Not caring wherever I strayed.
Till by chance I beheld a fair school ma’am,
Who most bitterly did complain,
It was all for the loss of her lover
From the banks of the Little Auplaine.

I boldly stepped up to this fair one,
And this unto her I did say,
“Why are you so sad and so mournful,
When all nature is smiling and gay?”
“It 's all for a jolly young raftsman,
But I fear I will see him no more,
For he is down on the “Wisconsin River,
A-pulling a fifteen-foot oar,”

“If it’s all for a jolly young raftsman
You are here in such awful despair,
Pray tell me the name of your true love,
And what kind of clothes did he wear?”
“His pants were made of two meal sacks,
With a patch a foot wide on each knee,
And his jacket and shirt they were dyed
With the bark of the butternut tree.

“His hair was inclined to be curly,
His whiskers as red as the sun,
He was tall, square-shouldered and handsome,
His height was six feet and one.
His name was young Johnnie Murphy,
And his equal I ne’er saw before,
But he is down on the Wisconsin River,
A-pulling a fifteen-foot oar.”

“If Johnnie Murphy was the name of your true love,
He was a man I knew very well,
But sad is the tale I must tell you,
Your Johnnie was drowned in the Dalles.
We buried him ’neath a scrub Norway,
And his face you will ne’er see again;
No stone marks the grave of your lover,
And he is far from the Little Auplaine.”

When she heard me say this she fainted,
And fell at my feet like one dead;
I scooped up a hat full of water
And threw it all over her head.
She opened her eyes and looked wildly,
She acted like one that’s insane,
I thought to myself she had gone crazy
On the banks of the Little Auplaine.

“My curse be upon you, Ross Campbell,
For taking my Johnnie away;
May the eagles take hold of your body,
And sink it ’way down in the clay.
May your lumber all go to the bottom,
Never rise to the surface no more;
May all of your creeks and your sandbars
Go as dry as the log schoolhouse floor.

“And now I will leave this location,
I’ll teach district school no more;
I will go where never, no never,
I will hear the screech of a fifteen-foot oar.
I will go to some far distant country,
To England, to France or to Spain,
But I will never forget Johnnie Murphy
Or the banks of the Little Auplaine.

Gordon, Robert Winslow, 1888-1961
Date Recorded: 
September, 1924
Track Duration (h:m:s): 
Original Medium: 
wax cylinder
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Call Number/Physical Location: 
AFS 19011A: G81 Misc 134

One of two fragments of this song recorded by Gordon from Dean.


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