The following poem is composed of song titles from American Ballads and Folk Songs
(Lomax, John. American Ballads and Folk Songs. New York: the Macmillan Company, 1934. Print)
Paddy works on the Erie
with Mike, Snagtooth Sal, Charlie Snyder
and Ol’ Rattler, ten thousand miles
from home, dreaming of goin’ home,
dreaming of Rosie, long gone, long gone.
“The gal I left behind me,” he moans,
“way over in the blooming garden,
down in the valley where I left my home.
Rosie,” moanin’, “Beautiful darlin’.”
And sometimes Ol’ Rattler says, or Mike says,
Or Charlie Snyder says, or Snagtooth Sal says,
“Paddy, come on in town with us and
find out what folks are made of.
Raise a rukus tonight. Drink that
rot gut and find yourself a woman blue
and drink her down and love her down
the Erie Canal, love her down to Alabama,
love her down to Hell in Texas and down
to the deep, deep bottom of a deep, deep river.”
“Hardly think I will,” says Paddy.
“I don’t care what folks are made of.
Rosie’s made of the crows in the garden
and red iron ore and dark Sunday school. She’s
made of a rattlesnake and a stampede, she’s
made of amazing grace and rye whiskey and a
paper of pins and the cowboy’s dream.
She’s made of long gone and long time ago.
“Reason I stay on the job so long is,
reason I stay so long is, I shot my
pistol in the heart of town, I was
tying a knot in the Devil’s tail, I was
the killer and I was the war song,
I was hard times.
I wish I was a mole in the ground.
Fare thee well, babe, I said, and
I wish I was a mole in the ground.”
That’s what Paddy says when they ask him to town.