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BALLAD OF THE HARP WEAVER (Thelma Matesky Moore / Edna St. Vincent Millay) Johnny Cash - 1963 Also recorded by : Agnes Moorehead. Son said my mother when I was knee high You need of clothes to cover you and not a rag have I There's nothing in the house to make a boy's britches Nor shears to cut a cloth with, nor thread to take stitches There's nothing in the house but a leaf end of rye And the harp with a woman's head nobody will buy and she began to cry That was in the early fall and when came the late fall Son she said the sight of you makes your mother's blood crawl Little skinny shoulder blades stickin' through your clothes And where you get a jacket from God above knows It's lucky for me lad, your daddy's in the ground And can't see the way I let his son go around and she made a queer sound That was in the late fall when the winter came I'd not a pair of bridges nor a shirt to my name I couldn't go to school or out of doors to play And all the other little boys passed our way Son said my mother come climb into my lap And I'll chafe your little knees while you take a nap And oh but we were silly for half an hour or more Me with my long legs draggin' on the floor I rocked, rocked, rocked to a mother goose rhyme Oh but we were happy for half an hour's time But there was I, a great boy and what would folks say To hear my mother singin' me to sleep all day in such a daft way Men say the winter was bad that year Fuel was scarce and food was dear A wind with a wolf's head howled about our door And we burned up the chairs and sat upon the floor All that was left us was a chair we couldn't break And the harp with a woman's head nobody would take for song or pity sake The night before Christmas I cried with the cold I cried myself to sleep like a two year old And in the deep night I felt my mother rise And stare down upon me with love in her eyes I saw my mother sitting on the one good chair A light falling on her face from I couldn't tell where Looking nineteen and not a day older And the harp with a woman's head leaned against her shoulder Her thin fingers moving in the thin tall strings Were weave, weave, weaving wonderful things Many bright threads from where I couldn't see Were running through the harp strings rapidly And gold threads whistlin' through my mother's hands I saw the web grow and the pattern expand She wove a child's jacket and when it was done She laid it on the floor and wove another one She wove a red cloak so regal to see She's made it for a king's son I said and not for me but I knew it was for me She wove a pair of bridges and quicker than that She wove a pair of boots a little cocked hat She wove a pair of mittens she wove a little blouse She wove all night in the still cold house She sang as she worked and the harp strings spoke But her voice never faltered and the thread never broke But when I awoke, there sat my mother With the harp against her shoulder lookin' nineteen and not a day older A smile about her lips and a light about her head And her hands in the harp strings frozen dead And piled up beside her, toppling to the skies Were the clothes of a king's son just my size


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