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The Cowboy's Lament or Streets of Laredo (1876)
by Francis Henry Maynard
As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy wrapped up in white linen,
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.
"O beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly;
Play the Dead March as you carry me along.
Take me to the green valley and lay the sod o're me,
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I done wrong."
"I see by your outfit that your are a cowboy."
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by.
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story;
I'm shot in the breast and I know I must die."
"My friends and relations they live in the Nation:
They know not where their dear boy has gone.
I first came to Texas and hired to a ranchman,
O I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."
"It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing:
It was once in the saddle I used to go gay.
First to the dram house and then to the card house,
Got shot in the breast and I'm dying today."
"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin;
Get six pretty maidens to sing me a song.
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
Put roses to deaden the cods as they fall."
"Go gather around you a group of young cowboys,
And tell them the story of this my sad fate.
Tell one and the other before they go further,
To stop their wild roving before it's too late."
"Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water
To cool my parched lips," the young cowboy said.
Before I returned the spirit had left him
And gone to its Maker--the cowboy was dead.
We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
And bitterly wept as we bore him along.
For awe all loved our comrade, so brave, young, and handsome,
We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong.