The Pesky Sarpent
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
The tune is based on the death of Timothy Myrick, of Springfield, Massachusetts. He was engaged to marry Sarah Blake, but was bitten by a rattlesnake on August 7, 1761 and died.

The tune was originally Springfield Mountain, a somber tale that urges repentance before it is too late, to "be prepared when God doth call." The words may have first been sung to Psalm 100 (Old Hundredth).

Springfield Mountain was redone for the Boston music-hall stage in the 1830's as the tune here. The sheet music was published in 1840.

On Springfield mountain there did dwell
A comely youth I knew full well,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

One Monday morning he did go
Down in the meadow for to mow,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

He scarce had mowed half the field,
When a pesky sarpent bit his heel.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

He took his scythe and with a blow,
He laid the pesky sarpent low.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

He took the sarpent in his hand
And straightway went to Molly Bland.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

Oh, Molly, Molly, here you see,
The pesky sarpent what bit me.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

Now Molly had a ruby lip
With which pizen she did sip.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

But Molly had a rotten tooth,
Which the pizen struck and kill'd em both.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

The neighbors found that they were dead,
So laid them both upon one bed.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

And all their friends both far and near
Did cry and howl, they were so dear.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

Now all you maids a warning take
From Molly Bland and Tommy Blake.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

And mine, when you're in love, don't pass
Too near to patches of high grass.
Ri tu di na ri tu di na,
Ri tu di na ri tu di na.

Related Links
From
The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs and
The Ballad of America
See Bibliography for full information.