In Springfield mountain there did dwe-i-ell
A lovely youth I knew full we-i-ll.
One day this youth did go-i-o,
Down in the meadow for to mow-i-o.
He skeerst had mowed half round the fie-i-ield,
When a pizen sarpint tuck him by the he-i-el.
He laid right down upon the grou-ow-ound,
Shut both his eyes and looked all ar-ow-ound.
"O pappy da-wa-wad, go tell my ga-wa-wal,
That I'm goin' fer to die, I know I sha-wa-wal."
"O John, O John, why did you go-wo-wo
Out in the meadow for to mo-wo-wow?"
"O Sal, O Sal, why don't you kno-wo-wow,
When the grass gits ripe, it must be mo-wo-wowed?"
Sal tuck his heel all in her mou-ow-wouth,
And tried to suck the pizen ou-ow-wout.
But Sal she had a rotten too-oo-ooth,
And so the pizen kilt them bo-o-oth.
Come all young girls and shed one tear-weer-weer,
For these young folks who died right here-weer-weer.
Come all young men and warnin' ta-wa-wake,
Don't never get bit by a rattle-sna-wa-wake.
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Source: Alan Lomax, The Penguin Book of American Folk Songs, Penguin, 1964
Alan Lomax wrote:
America's first indiginous folk ballad concerns Timothy Myrick of Springfield, Massachusetts, who was bitten by a rattlesnake and died of the effects on 7 August 1761. A local poet composed a serious elegiac ballad about the incident, which struck the funnybone of the Yankees and was lampooned and spread in this comic form, first via the music hall, later by word of mouth and in many variants, to every part of America.