Harriet Tubman's Ballad

Woody Guthrie
Language: English

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Album “Long Ways to Travel: The Unreleased Folkways Masters, 1944-1949”, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1994.
(Testo trovato su The Mudcat Café)


Nel 1944 Guthrie lesse il libro di Earl Conrad intitolato “Harriet Tubman: Negro Soldier and Abolitionist”, dedicato alla figura della celebre afroamericana che, dopo essersi liberata dalla schiavitù, spese molti anni della sua vita come “smuggler”, come conducente dell’”Underground Railroad”, aiutando centinaia di schiavi neri a fuggire verso la libertà e, più tardi, aiutò John Brown a pianificare gli attacchi armati contro i proprietari schiavisti in Virginia, meritandosi il soprannome di “General Tubman”.
La storia di questa donna coraggiosa colpì molto Guthrie, che nel settembre dello stesso anno scrisse su di lei questa canzone biografica, da cantarsi sulla melodia della popolare “Kansas Boys”.
I was five years old in Bucktown Maryland
When into slavery I was sent
I'll tell you of the beatings and of the fighting
In my ninety-three years I've spent

I helped a field hand make a run for freedom
When my fifteenth year was rolling round
And the guard he caught him in a little store
In a little slavery village town
The boss made a grab to catch the field hand
I jumped in and blocked the door
The boss he hit me with a two pound scale iron
And I went black down on the floor
On a bundle of rags in our log cabin
My mother she ministered unto my needs
It was here I swore I’d give my life blood
Just to turn my people free

In '44 I married John Tubman
Well I loved him well till '49
But he would not come and fight beside me
So I left him there behind
I left Bucktown with my two brothers
But they got scared and run back home
I followed my northern star of freedom
I walked the grass and trees alone
I slept in a barn loft and in a haystack
I slept with my people in slavery shacks
They said I'd die by the bossman's bullets
But I told them I can't turn back
The sun was shining in the early morning
When I come to my free state line
I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming
I just could not believe my eyes

I went back home and I got my parents
I loaded them into a buckboard hag
We crossed six states and other slaves followed
Up to Canada we made our tracks
One slave got scared and he tried to turn backwards
I pulled my pistol in front of his eyes
I said get up and walk to your freedom
Or by this fireball you will die
When John Brown hit them at Harper's Ferry
My men was fighting right by his side
When John Brown swung upon his gallows
It was then I hung my head and cried
Give the black man guns and give him powder
To Abe Lincoln this I said
You’ve just crippled that snake of slavery
We’ve got to fight to kill him dead
When we faced the guns of lightning
And the thunders broke our sleep
After we waded the bloody rainstorms
It was dead men that we reaped
Yes we faced the zigzag lightning
But it was worth the price we paid
When our thunder had rumbled over
We’d laid slavery in it's grave

Come now and stand around my deathbed
And I will sing some spirit songs
I'm my way to my greater union
Now my ninety-three years are gone

Contributed by Alessandro - 2010/3/18 - 13:55

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