The Maid I Left Behind

My parents raised me tenderly; they had no child but me.
My mind being bent on rambling, with them could not agree,
Till I became a rover bold, which grieved their heart full sore.
I left my aged parents and I ne'er shall see them more.

There was a worthy gentleman residing in that part,
He had an only daughter dear, and I had won her heart
She was noble-minded, true and tall, so beautiful and fair,
With Columbia's fairest daughter she surely could compare.

I told her my intention was soon to cross the main,
And asked her if she would prove true till I'd return again.
She threw her arms around my neck, her bosom heaved a sigh.
"Fear not for me, brave youth," said she, "my love can never die.

"I had a dream the other night which I cannot believe,
That distance breaks the links of love and leaves fair maids to grieve."
I pressed a kiss upon her lips and told her, "Never fear."
I vowed by Him who ruled the skies that I would be sincere.

According to agreement I went on board my ship,
And to the town of Glasgow I made a pleasant trip.
There I found gold was plenty and the maids were somewhat kind.
It made my love grow cold a bit for the girl I left behind.

To Dumfries town I next sailed down, that hospitable land,
Where handsome Jennie Ferguson first took me by the hand.
She said, "I've gold in plenty, and in love with you, I find."
The thoughts of gold destroyed my love for the girl I left behind.

Says she, "If you will marry me and say no more you'll rove,
The gold that I possess is yours and I will constant prove;
But your parents dear and other friends that you have left behind,
Don't ever, if you marry me, bear them again in mind."

To this I soon consented, and I own it to my shame,
For what man can be happy when he knows he is to blame?
It's true I've gold in plenty and my wife is very kid,
But my pillow oft is haunted by the girl I left behind.

My father in his winding-sheet, my mother too appears,
The girl I love stands by their side to wipe away their tears;
They all died broken-hearted, and now it's too late, I find
That God has seen my cruelty to the girl I left behind.

From Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman by William Main Doerflinger (1951, '72, '91)