“Lily Lee”


(Nathan Gray) sets out across the sea to gain the money to marry (Lily/Lilla) Lee. One night he dreams that Lily is dead. He returns home in fear, to find that she has indeed died

Supplemental text

Lily Lee
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, Volume I, #98A, pp. 377.
Collected from Charles Ingenthron of Walnut Shade, Missouri,
September 6, 1941.

Down by the shores of the sounding sea
Is the humble home of my Lily Lee,
And over the deep and the far away
Went sailing her lover all bright and gay.

To gather diamonds, to gather gold,
And over the waters so clear and so cold,
The earth and the seas may give up their dead
Before I'll return without treasure, he said.

Cross references


  1. Randolph 98, "Lily Lee" (1 text plus a fragment, 2 tunes)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 513-514, "Lily Lee" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 98B)
  3. ST R098 (Full)
  4. Roud #3268
  5. BI, R098


Alternate titles: “Lila Lee”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1936 (LoC recording, David Rice)
Found in: US(MW,So)