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The Forked Deer


by Alson Baker
from the Berea Citizen, Berea, Kentucky, May 4, 1922

O, I was born among the hills
And dragged up by the hair—
I wasn't raised, but roved around
And grew up everywhere
And always as I romped and roved
My heart rejoiced to hear
When ancient fiddlers tuned their strings
And played the "Fork-ed Deer."

I've traveled up and down the land
From Florida to Maine—
I've seen the Georgia Darkies dance
Among the sugar cane;
I've seen the rich folks bored and sad
When dame and cavalier
Shook fancy rags to fancy tunes—
But not to "Fork-ed Deer."

I've worn the khaki 'round the world,
And heard the famous bands
Of fifty nations play their tunes
In fifty foreign lands;
I've danced among the dancing folks
In every hemisphere,
But never yet have heard a tune
To touch the "Fork-ed Deer."

I've heard the famous Violins
Who play for kings and queens—
I've lived through hours of classic noise,
But don't know what it means!
I've seen a great musician smile
And wipe away a tear
To think that he had never learned
To play the "Fork-ed Deer."

I don't know where the fiddlers go,
Nor why they ever die!
But if there is a place where they
Are gathered by and by,
I hope to go where they have gone
And when I wake to hear
An angel band a billion strong
Strike up the "Fork-ed Deer."