Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Humorous Poems: III. Parodies: Imitations
Deborah Lee
William H. Burleigh (1812–1871)
’T IS 1 a dozen or so of years ago,
  Somewhere in the West countree,
That a nice girl lived, as ye Hoosiers know
  By the name of Deborah Lee;
Her sister was loved by Edgar Poe,        5
  But Deborah by me.
Now I was green, and she was green,
  As a summer’s squash might be;
And we loved as warmly as other folks,—
  I and my Deborah Lee,—        10
With a love that the lasses of Hoosierdom
  Coveted her and me.
But somehow it happened a long time ago,
  In the aguish West countree,
That chill March morning gave the shakes        15
  To my beautiful Deborah Lee;
And the grim steam-doctor (drat him!) came,
  And bore her away from me,—
The doctor and death, old partners they,—
  In the aguish West countree.        20
The angels wanted her in heaven
  (But they never asked for me),
And that is the reason, I rather guess,
  In the aguish West countree,
That the cold March wind, and the doctor, and death,        25
  Took off my Deborah Lee—
  My beautiful Deborah Lee—
From the warm sunshine and the opening flowers,
  And bore her away from me.
Our love was as strong as a six-horse team,        30
  Or the love of folks older than we,
  Or possibly wiser than we;
But death, with the aid of doctor and steam,
  Was rather too many for me:
He closed the peepers and silenced the breath        35
  Of my sweetheart Deborah Lee,
And her form lies cold in the prairie mold,
  Silent and cold,—ah me!
The foot of the hunter shall press her grave,
  And the prairie’s sweet wild flowers        40
In their odorous beauty around it wave
  Through all the sunny hours,—
  The still, bright summer hours;
And the birds shall sing in the tufted grass
  And the nectar-laden bee,        45
With his dreamy hum, on his gauze wings pass,—
  She wakes no more to me;
  Ah, nevermore to me!
Though the wild birds sing and the wild flowers spring,
  She wakes no more to me.        50
Yet oft in the hush of the dim, still night,
  A vision of beauty I see
Gliding soft to my bedside,—a phantom of light,
  Dear, beautiful Deborah Lee,—
  My bride that was to be;        55
And I wake to mourn that the doctor, and death,
And the cold March wind, should stop the breath
  Of my darling Deborah Lee,—
  Adorable Deborah Lee,—
That angels should want her up in heaven        60
  Before they wanted me.
Note 1. See Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” [back]

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