“Logan's Lament”


The singer describes the happy lives of various creatures, then turns to his own unhappy lot. His wife, children, and people have been destroyed by the white man. He vows to "dig up my hatchet and bend my oak bow...."

Supplemental text

Logan's Lament
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

The Blackbird, or, Logan's Lament

From Mary O. Eddy, Ballads and Songs from Ohio, #112, pp. 254-255.
From Catherine J. Rayner, Piqua, Ohio.

1. The blackbird is singing on Michigan's shore,
      As sweetly and gaily as ever before,
   For she knows to her mate she at pleasure can hie,
      And her little brood she is teaching to fly,
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

2. The fox and the panther, both beasts of the night,
      Retire to their dens on the gleaming of light,
   And they spring with a free and a sorrowless track,
      For they know that their mates are expecting them back,
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

3. The sun looks as ruddy, and rises ad bright,
      And reflects o'er our mountains as beamy a light
   As it ever reflected, or ever expresses
      When skies were the bluest, my dreams were the best,
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

4. Each bird and each beast are blessed in degree;
      All nature is cheerful, all happy but me;
   I will go to my tent and lie down in despair,
      I will paint me with black and I'll sever my hair.
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

5. I will sit on the shore when the hurricane blows,
      And reveal to the God of the tempest my woes;
   I will weep for a season, on bitterness fed,
      For my kindred have gone to the hills of the dead,
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

6. But they died not by hunger or lingering decay;
      The steel of the white man has swept them away;
   The snake-skin that once I so sacredly wore
      I will toss with disdain to the storm-beaten shore,
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

7. They came to my cabin when heaven was black,
      I heard not their coming, and knew not their track,
   But I saw by the light of their blazing fusees
      They were people engendered beyond the big seas,
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

8. I will dig up my hatchet and bend my oak bow,
      By night and by day I will follow the foe;
   No lake shall impede me, no mountains nor snow,
      Their blood can alone give my spirit repose.
         Oh, alas, I am undone!

9. My wife and my children! Oh, spare me the tale,
      For who is there left that is kin to Geehale;
   My wife and my children! Oh, spare me the tale,
      For who is there left that is kin to Geehale;
         Oh, alas, I am undone!


Eddy reports that this song is based on a speech by one Logan, the son of a white man and a Cayuga woman. His family was slain by Europeans, and he vowed revenge, igniting what is known as Lord Dunmore's War (for which see "The Battle of Point Pleasant"). When the Shawnee chief Cornstalk made peace with Dunmore (the Royal governor of Virginia) in 1775, Logan refused to give up his vengeance, and offered this speech (delivered under the Logan Elm in Pickaway County, Ohio) to back his position.

Despite its origin, the first few stanzas of this song bear an interesting similarity to Jesus's words in Matt. 8:20, Luke 9:58. - RBW

Logan, a chief of the Mingo tribe, was raised a Christian, and the beginning of his oration under the elm is a clear paraphrase of the cited passages from the Bible. A biography of Logan, and the full text of his speech, may be found in Walter G. Shotwell's _Driftwood_ (1927, reprinted 1966 by the Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, NY). - PJS

Cross references


  1. Eddy 112, "The Blackbird, or Logan's Lament" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
  2. Burt, pp. 128-129, "Logan's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. ST E112 (Full)
  4. Roud #5340
  5. BI, E112


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1844 (fragment in Sanders' Fourth Reader)
Found in: US(MW)