Lonely I strayed by the banks of the river
Watching the sunbeams as evening drew nigh
As onward I rambled I spied a fair damsel
Weeping and wailing with many a sigh.
Crying for one who is now lying lonely
Sighing for one who no mortal can see
For the dark rolling waters flow gently about him
As onward they speed over young Jimmy's grave.
She cries, "O my darling, won't you come to my arrums
And give me fond kisses which oft-times you gave?
You promised to meet me this evening, my darling
So now, lovely Jimy, arise from your grave."
Slowly he rose from the dark stormy waters
A vision of beauty far fairer than sun
Pink and red were the garment all 'round him
And unto this fair maid to speak he began.
Saying, "Why do you rise me from the realms of glory
Back to this place where I once had to leave?"
"It was to embrace in your strong loving arrums
So now, lovely Jimmy, take me to your grave."
"Darling," he says, "you are asking a favour
That no earthly mortal could grant unto thee
For death is the debtor that tore us asunder
And wide is the gulf, love, between you and me.
Hard, hard were the struggles on the cruel Mississippi
But encircled around her on every side
Thinking of you as we conquered them bravely
I was hoping some day for to make you my bride.
But in vain was the hopes that arose in my bosom
And nothing, oh nothing, on earth could be saved
My last dying thoughts were of God and you, darling
Till death took me down to the deep silent grave.
One fond embrace, love, and then I must leave you
One fond farewell and then we must part
Cold were the arms that encircled around her
And cold was the form that she pressed to her heart.
Slowly he rose from the banks of the river
Up to the sky he then seemed to go
Leaving this fair maid on the banks of the river
Sighing and weeping in anger and woe.
Throwing herself on the banks of the river
Crying as though her poor heart it would break
She cried, "O my darling, my lost Jimmy Whelan
I'll lie down and die by the side of your grave.
Note: The Mississippi River mentioned in this
ballad is not the river in United States, rather a
logging river outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Many
lives were lost as the rivermen tried to move logs
down river and through the rapids to the mills. There
is another ballad with a similar theme in my Canadian
collection. It's title is Jim Whelan, but the
person who drowned in that song was in reality named
Jim Phelan. According to my readings, the drowning in
that sad song occurred in the same Mississippi
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