Sawmill John

Oh, tally ho! Sing for the timber!
Sing for the logger and the lumberjack strong!
Hey, tally hey! Sing of the cinder
And the axe and the smoke and of Sawmill John!

So went the chant of the logger and the settler,
The pioneer and peddler, though long have they been gone;
Still goes that chant from the lips of men and children,
And in the air, a chilling, when they tell of Sawmill John.

John had been a logger in the years when he was younger,
Straighter, faster, stronger — but those days were now long gone.
So he labored in the sawmill, with the dust and blade and grinding,
The heavy work not minding — so was Sawmill John.

All day the blade was screaming, the sawdust always spinning;
The logs were slowly skimming to the river’s rolling song.
To the sawblade John would guide them — the logs to lumber turning;
And a fire, always burning, in the heart of Sawmill John.

John’s heart was with the forests where those logs were cut and taken;
And his heart, how it was breaking to be where he belonged!
But that log — it kept on rolling, and he never saw it coming —
The sawblade, always humming, took the leg of Sawmill John.

They say he lost his mind then, and to the forests he went roaming,
The woodlands always combing as he searched for what was gone.
Ever seeking , never finding, still mournfully he wanders. . .
His form seen sometimes yonder. . . the ghost of Sawmill John.

Oh, tally ho! Sing for the timber!
Sing for the logger and the lumberjack strong!
Hey, tally hey! Sing of the cinder
And the axe and the smoke and of Sawmill John!

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