MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Banks of Panama
Paddy Maher NFLD 1 Tape 16A Track 2
Flatrock Audio:
Ballad / Indian girl Musical notation available

It was on a pleasant evening in the lovely month of June
I took a walk from camp my boys all nature was in bloom
I took a walk from camp my boys to view the scenery round
And twas there l spied an Indian girl a-sitting on the ground

She did not seem to notice me until l drew quite near
I said, "My pretty Indian Girl, what are you doing here?
You do surprise my very eyes although you are a squaw
Tell me why you're so lonely on the banks of Panama"

"Draw near to me kind sir she said and l will tell you all
My brother and my sister died when l was very small
My brother and my sister died likewise my paw and maw
And that's why I'm so lonely on the banks of Panama

And that was not the worst of all, a sweetheart he was mine
He was the greatest scout that rode the British Borderline
He courted me he flattered me he said l was his squaw
Then he left me here heart broken on the banks of Panama"

I said "My pretty Indian girl come along with me
I'll take you to a happy home in a paleface counteree
I'll dress you up in silks so fine the best you've ever saw
And no more you'll need to wander on the banks of Panama."

"Oh no no no kind sir she said it's a thing I'll never do
I made a vow to live and die with the reindeer and the doe
Since my paleface broke his oath and l am but a squaw
I made a vow to live and die on the banks of Panama."


Notes

Sources: Mercer 96; Leach 242; Peacock 424-5 ("Banks of Penmanah" or "Banks of Pondamah"); Fowke 1994: 160 ("The Banks of the Pembina"); Laws H11 ("On the Banks of the Pamanaw"); Roud 2196.

History: Known variants are North American. Fowke notes that the river's name varies, often reflecting a local place. She writes that the song circulated in the lumbercamps.

Text notes: Narrative of an Indian girl whose lover was British. Leach notes the similarities between this song and Little Mohee

Tune notes: Peacock collected an unusual aaab tune that shifts mode, but the tune in the Leach collection is an abba form in which the "a" and "b" phrases have a similar second half.

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