Song or Story
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"The Little Mohea," also known by many other names and spellings, is an old song that likely developed from an older English broadside song known as "The Indian Lass." Most folklorists agree that "Mohea" probably developed in its American form among sailors, and some even point to whaling ships specifically.
1. As I was walking down by the sea shore, The waves were playing, the wind it did roar; As I sat amusing myself on the grass, Who did I spy but a young Indian lass.
2. She sat down beside, and holding my hand She said, “You’re a stranger in a strange land; If you will follow and come with me, I’ll teach you the language of the little Mohea.”
3. She asked me to marry and offered her hand Saying, “Father’s a chieftain who rules this fair land; Father’s a chieftain, and a ruler you could be, I’m his only daughter, my name is Mohea.”
4. “No, my fair maiden, it never can be, For I have a true sweetheart in my own country; Now I must leave you, so farewell my dear, My ship’s a sailing, home I must steer.”
5. The last time I saw her, she was knelt on the sand, As my boat passed by her she waved me her hand; Saying, “When you get over, to the shore, the one you love, Remember your Mohea in the coconut grove.”
6. As my ship landed with my girl on the shore, Friends and relations gathered ‘round me once more; As I looked around me, none could I see That compared with my little Mohea.
7. The girl I had trusted proved untrue to me, So now I turn my course backward across the blue sea; I’ll turn my course backward and away I will flee, Spend the rest of my days with my little Mohea.
Appleton, Maine, Harvey Gurney, Jeff McKeen, Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, The Little Mohea, The Indian Lass, broadside, English, harmonica, concertina, sea song, On Top of Old Smoky, Roud, Laws
Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy and Mary Winslow Smyth. Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-Songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1927, 230-33; Creighton, Helen. Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia. New York: Dover Publications, 1966, 103-4; Flanders, Helen Hartness, Elizabeth Hartness Flanders, George Brown, & Phillips Barry. The New Green Mountain Songster: Traditional Folk Songs of Vermont. Hatboro, PA: Folklore Associates, 1966, 144-46; Leach, MacEdward. Folk Ballads and Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, 1965, 258-60; Laws, G. Malcolm, Jr. Native American Balladry. Revised Edition. American Folklore Society, Bibliographical and Special Series, 1. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1964, 233-34 (H8); Belden, H.M., ed. Ballads and Songs: Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1966, 143-45; Huntington, Gale. Songs the Whalemen Sang. Barre, MA: Barre Publishers, 1964, 148-51; Huntington, Gale, ed. Sam Henry’s Songs of the People. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990, 372-73; & Chase, Richard. American Folk Tales and Songs and Other Examples of English-American Tradition as Preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and Elsewhere in the United States. New York: Dover Publications, 1971, 128-29.
Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Oral History
Gurney, Harvey. 1991. "The Little Mohea." NA 2255, CD 1198.1. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.