Poor Little Turtle Dove

Bascom Lamar Lunsford

This song came to me from Mike and Peggy Seeger who got it from a recording of Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1929. I added a couple of verses from a late 18th-century ballad 'The True Lover's Farewell' collected by Cecil Sharp, and adapted by Stephen Sedley in his book The Seeds of Love. The verses are common in other ballads and the tune is pretty much the same as 'Woody Knows Nothin'. I bet Eric Darling got it from this song in the first place.


Poor little turtle dove
Sitting in a pine
Mourning for its own true love
Why not me for mine,
Why not me for mine.

I don't want to marry in the fall
I want to marry in the spring
I want to marry a pretty little girl
Wears a golden ring,
Wears a golden ring.

The crow that's black, my little turtle dove,
Shall change its color to white.
Before I prove false to the girl I love
The noon-day shall be night, my love,
The noon-day shall be night.

I went up on the mountainside
To give my horn a blow
There I heard my true love say
Yonder comes my beau,
Yonder comes my beau.

I've got hogs in a pen
Corn to feed them on
All I need is a pretty little girl
To feed them when I'm gone,
To feed them when I'm gone.

The stars shall fall, my little turtle dove,
And the rocks melt with the sun.
I'll never prove false to the girl I love
Till all these things be done, my love,
Till all these things be done.

C Standard