Pres Longley, the Bard of Butte

In 2013 John Rudderow and I published a collection of poems by Alexander Preston Longley (1834-1912), an old-time miner and a resident of Butte Creek Canyon. The Miner Poet: Poems of Pres Longley contains 100 of his poems and a biographical introduction.

Pres’s poems are a window into the interests and concerns of the men who lived in “the days of old, the days of gold, the days of ’49.” Here is one of his early poems, published in The Golden Era on February 8, 1857. It was meant to be sung, but I don’t know what tune goes with it. The poem was signed with his pen name, ALP, a rearrangement of his initials and an indication of his mountain home.

THE MINER’S WISH

O, give me a cot in Dorado’s fair clime,

Where the sound of the pick and the shovel do chime,

Where the miners go forth to collect the bright ore;

With this, and dear L. N., I’d wish for no more.

Chorus—

O’ I’m loving her so wherever I go,

It makes my heart beat, and my blood for to flow;

But the d’il’s in her eye, and I cannot tell why

She loves every other much better than I.

O, give me a home in these mountains so grand,

Where the tall pines and cedars in majesty stand,

And the breeze sighing through them with musical roar;

With L. N. to share it, I’d wish for no more.

Chorus—I’m loving &c.

O give me a claim on a murmuring stream,

Where the golden sands gleam in morning’s first beam;

I’d take out the dust till my pockets ran o’er,

Live happy with L. N., and wish for no more.

Chorus—I’m loving &c.

By field and by flood I’ve wandered afar,

In peril, in danger, in peace and in war;

But if L. N. would love me, I’d ramble no more,

‘Till we both passed away to a far brighter shore.

Chorus—I’m loving &c.

 

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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