“Tom Dula's Lament”


"I pick my banjo now, I pick it on my knee, This time tomorrow night, It'll be no more use to me." Dula says that Laura (Foster) loved his banjo playing, and says he never knew how true her love was. He bids Ann (Melton) to kiss him goodbye

Supplemental text

Tom Dula's Lament
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From the Frank C. Brown collection, Volume II, #304, p. 713.
The immediate source is not evident from the notes in Brown.

1 I pick my banjo now,
  I pick it on my knee.
  This time tomorrow night
  It'll be no use to me.

2 The banjo's been my friend
  In days both dark and ill.
  A-layin' here in jail
  It's helped me time to kill.

3 Poor Laura loved its tunes
  When sitting 'neath a tree;
  I'd play and sing to her
  My head upon her knee.

4 Poor Laura loved me well,
  She was both fond and true;
  How deep her love for me
  I never really knew.

5 Her black curl on my heart,
  I'll meet my fatal doom,
  As swift as she met hers
  That dreadful evening's gloom.

6 I've lived my life of sin,
  I've had a bit of fun.
  Come, Ann, kiss me goodby,
  My race is nearly run.


This song may possibly be a rewritten version of "Tom Dooley" (or vice versa); they share lyrics, and can be sung to the same tune. But this one is in the first person, "Tom Dooley" mostly in third person. Plus this one shows Dula lamenting his errors. They look separate to me, as they did to the editors of Brown. - RBW

Cross references


  • Sheila Clark, "Tom Dula's Own Ballad" (on LegendTomDula)


  1. BrownII 304, "Tom Dula's Lament" (2 texts, but the second is a single-stanza fragment, not found in the "A" text, and is included in the "Tom Dooley" text sung by Frank Profitt)
  2. ST BrII304 (Full)
  3. Roud #6645
  4. BI, BrII304


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Brown)
Found in: US(SE)