MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
White Man Let Me Go
Performed by Vince Ledwell Accession # 78-054 NFLD 1 Tape 1A Track 5
Community: Calvert Audio:
Genre: Ballad / homesick  

Transcription

Let me go let me go to the far distant west
To the scenes of my childhood that I love the best
Where the tall cedars flourish and the wide waters flow
To my scenes in the forest white man let me go [Bis]

Let me go to my father by whose valiant side
I have wandered so often in the height of my pride
And then to my forest with quiver and bow
To my father the chieftan white man let me go [Bis]

Let me go to my mother the queen of the west
Who so oft in my hammock has rocked me to rest
Let me go to my mother whose tears would o'erflow
At the sight of her lost boy white man let me go [Bis]

And o, let me go to my bright home …

Let me go, let me go to my own dark-eyed maid
Who first taught me love 'neath the green willow's shade
Her heart's like the fawn and as pure as the snow
And she loves her young Indian to her let me go [Bis]

Let me go, let me go, to my fair forest home
And from it again I will ne'er wish to roam
And there let my body in ashes lie low
To my home in the forest white man let me go [Bis]


Notes

Sources; Peacock 164: Fowke and Johnston, 32; cf. "The Indian's Lament" on Tommy Nemec. Songs from the Cape (BackCove, 2003). Roud 2055.

History: Collected by Kenneth Peacock from a lumbercamp worker, Phillip Foley of Tilting (Fogo Island), and by Helen Creighton in Nova Scotia, but not generally known elsewhere. First printed in 1835 (www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch).

Text notes: A lament of an Indian in captivity. The homesick singer names a different individual in each stanza, first his father, then his mother, and finally his sweetheart.

Tune notes: A different tune from the one Peacock recorded, this melody has a twist on the common abba pattern. The final phrase turns upward, ending on the highest note, and then the line repeats: abba'a. This greatly enhances the drama of the final line of each stanza.

 

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