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The Ballad Of John Henry – A Southern Folk Ballad

THE BALLAD OF JOHN HENRY – In this topic, we are going to read the full poem which is a Southern folk ballad called The Ballad of John Henry.

THE BALLAD OF JOHN HENRY
Image from: America Ilsintech

The ballad is about John Henry, an African American folk hero who is believed to have worked as a steel-driving man.

A steel-driving man is someone who is tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock in order to make holes for explosives to blast the rock.

Here is the full poem:

When John Henry was about three days old,
A-sittin’ on his pappy’s knee,
He gave one loud and lonesome cry:
“This hammer’ll be the death of me,
This hammer’ll be the death of me.”

Well, the captain said to John Henry one day:
“Gonna bring that steam drill’ round,
Gonna takethat steam drill’ out on the job,
Gonna whoop that steel on down,
Gonna whoop that steel on down.”

John Henry said to the captain:
“Well, the next time you go to town
Just bnring me back a twelve-pound hammer
And I’ll beat your steam drill down,
And I’ll beat your steam drill down.”

John Henry said to the captain:
“Well, the man ain’t nothin’ but a man
And before I let a steam drill beat me down
Gonna die with the hammer in my hand
Gonna die with the hammer in my hand.”

John Henry went to the tunnel,
And they put him in the lead to drive,
The rock so tall and John Henry so small,
He laid down his hammer and he cried
He laid down his hammer and he cried.

John Henry said to his shaker:
“Shaker, why don’t you sing?
For I’m swingin’ twelve pounds from the hips on down,
Just listen to that cold steel ring,
Just listen to that cold steel ring.”

READ ALSO: Dictionary – About The Book Of Words And Its Parts

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