I was born in East Virginia,
North Car'lina I did go,
There I courted a pretty young woman,
And her age I did not know.
Her hair was of some brightsome color,
Her cheeks were of a rosy red,
On her breast she wore white lilies,
Many a tear for her I've shed.
In my heart you are my darlin',
At my door you're welcome in,
At my gate, I'll always meet you,
If your love I could only win.
When I'm asleep I'm dreaming of you,
When I'm awake I see no rest,
Moments seem to me like hours,
With achin' pains all acrost my breast.
I'd rather be in some dark holler,
Where the sun refuse to shine,
Than to see you another man's darlin',
And to know you'll never be mine.
When I am dead and in my coffin,
With my pale face towards the sun,
You can come and see me darlin',
See the deed that you have done.
abc | midi | pdf
Source: Alan Lomax, The Penguin Book of American Folk Songs, Penguin, 1964
Comments on the Notation:
Alan Lomax directed that this "may be sung in close harmony, Southern Mountain style." For that reason I have provided the full notation he gave.
Alan Lomax also wrote:
Western Virginia, the wild mountainous region across the Appalachians, was settled by poor white Calvinists. It never felt itself part of the slave-owning South, and in 1860 it separated from "Eastern Virginia", set up its own State Government and allied itself with the Union. This song, dating from the period, comes from the mountainous borders of East Virginia. Like so many mountain love songs, it is laden with a sense of despair and frustration and a melancholy brooding about death. These frontier folk were weighted down with a Calvinist feeling of the shamefulness of the flesh. The rather nonsensical line
On her breast she wore white lilies
may once have been
And her breasts were white as lilies
Roud: 3396 (Search Roud index at VWML)