As I Walked Out in the Streets of Laredo

Original Text: 
Carl Sandburg, The American Songbag (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1927): 263. M 162 A657 1927 Music Library
2As I walked out in Laredo one day,
3I spied a poor cowboy wrapped up in white linen,
4Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay.
5"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy,"
6These words he did say as I boldly stepped by.
7"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story;
8I was shot in the breast and I know I must die.
9"Let sixteen gamblers come handle my coffin,
10Let sixteen cowboys come sing me a song,
11Take me to the graveyard and lay the sod o'er me,
12For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong.
13"It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
14It was once in the saddle I used to go gay.
15'Twas first to drinking and then to card playing,
16Got shot in the breast, I am dying today.
17"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
18Get six pretty girls to carry my pall;
19Put bunches of roses all over my coffin,
20Put roses to deaden the clods as they fall.
21"O beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly
22And play the dead march as you carry me along,
23Take me to the green valley and lay the sod o'er me,
24For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong."
25We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly,
26And bitterly wept as we bore him along;
27For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young, and handsome,
28We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong.


1] Laredo, Texas, is on the US-Mexico border. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001.