The Devil’s Hunting You

Our assignment for poetry class, due this week, was to write a ballad. I have since been inspired. I now have a new mission: to turn all my family’s legends and exciting stories into ballads. This one, “The Devil’s Hunting You”, is the true story of my great-great grandfather.

—–

The Devil’s Hunting You

Now sit ye down and listen close
The story I will tell.
A mystery, yes, it’s always been
Hark now and listen well.

Sixteen years, a man he was,
When all that he could lack
Was love, the life one cannot have
While on the railroad track.

The foreman made his life a hell
Like none a man can stand.
He took in hand the blood-bare pick
And struck him to the sand.

Hey, please tell, oh wishing well,
What can a young man do?
What can you say at end of day?
The Devil’s hunting you.

Great fear burned in the young man’s breast
When once the deed was done.
With terror of the kinsmen’s wrath
He set out on the run.

But in his dreams he still would see
The seven brothers stare,
Bitterly snarling their words of wrath,
“Revenge with meet you there.”

Hey, please tell, oh wishing well,
What can a young man do?
What can you say at end of day?
The Devil’s hunting you.

He ran on till the break of day.
He ran until the noon.
He ran on till the west’ring sun
Gave way unto the moon.

Years he spent till lovely eyes
From the road did sway
The hunted man upon the lane
Who’d run so far away.

And by her hand, this snow-white dove
She led him where at last
A sinful soul can find his peace
And guilt that he might cast.

“I’ll take my chance,” he told the dove.
“To marry and cherish you.
And if at last they find me here
I’ll stay and take my due.”

Hey, please tell, oh wishing well,
What can a young man do?
What can you say at end of day?
The Devil’s hunting you.

For many a year the trav’ling man
Lived in the country fair,
And with his wife and darling sons
He found no trouble there.

But then it was that one fine eve,
Returning from shopping day,
They met a man upon the road
Who followed them all the way.

A mystery he was, this strange, dark man,
Mounted upon a steed
Whose coat did shine a dark jet black,
That traveled without speed.

And so he sent his family ahead,
This man with blood-stained hand,
Prepared to face the mysterious shade;
Mid-road, he took his stand.

Hey, please tell, oh wishing well,
What can a young man do?
What can you say at end of day?
The Devil’s hunting you.

Nobody knows just what took place
There in the empty lane,
But soon my great-great grandfather
Had come back home again.

Never he broke, no word he spoke
About the jet black steed,
Nor did he say about that day
Just who the man might be.

Hey, please tell, oh wishing well,
What did that young man do?
What did he say at end of day?
No Devil is hunting you.

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2 thoughts on “The Devil’s Hunting You

    1. I would be more than happy to tell you the whole story later. It’s a mystery my family has pondered for several generations, starting with my great grandfather’s older brother, who never forgot the experience and told the story to my grandfather many years afterward.

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