Some breaking news about the song Red River Valley. On the left is my painting (click to enlarge). If you want inexpensive reoproductions of the painting please email me: Richiematt@aol.com
On my request John Garst obtained copies of the two handwritten versions of Red River Valley from the Piper collection at the University of Iowa.
One has, written under the lyrics, "Nemaha. 1879. Harlan 1885." He read this text is as follows:
RED RIVER VALLEY
From this valley they say you are going,
I shall miss your bright eyes and your(?) smile;
But alas, you take with you the sunshine
That has brightened my pathway awhile.
Then consider awhile ere you leave me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the heart that has loved you so true.
Do you think of he valley you're leaving,
How lonesome and dreary 'twill be?
Do you think of the heart you have broken
And the sorrow that o'ershadows me?
It is a long time I've been waiting
For the words that you never would say,
But alas, all my hopes they have vanished
For they say you are going away.
When you go to your home by the ocean,
O do not forget the sweet hours,
That we spent in the Red River Valley,
And be true to your promise to me.
The fair maiden prays for her lover
To the spirit that rules o'er the world
May his pathway be covered with sunshine
Is the prayer of the Red River girl.
John Garst thinks this to be a good and typical example of the form of the song that is associated with the Red River Valley of the North (Canada) and a romance between and east-coast Canadian soldier and a Metis maiden of Manitoba. He thinks it is probably the original setting of the song.
It's interesting that a song so popular and well-known would not have the first lyrics published. So here they are.