Sweet Betsy From Pike anonymous American Folk Song

Now don't you remember sweet Betsy from Pike

This line signifies a women named Betsy who is from Pike County.

Who crossed the big mountains with her lover Ike

She is migrating west with her lover through the rocky mountains.

Two yoke of oxen a big yeller dog

A wooden beam between two oxen and a large dog to go along with them.

A tall Shanghai rooster and one spotted hog

And a rooster and a hog to meet their dietary needs.

One evenin' quite early they camped on the plat

One night after a long day of travel they laid to rest on a plot of land

Down by the road on a green shady flat

They laid down to rest on a nice green patch of land.

Where Betsy got tired and lay down to repose

Betsy was tired so she layed down to recuperate.

And Ike he just gazed on his Pike County rose

Ike patiently stared at his sweet Betsy while she was on the patch of land.

Well they soon reached the desert where Betsy gave out

After days of travelling they finally reached the dessert where Betsy then reached her breaking point.

Down in the sand she lay rollin' about

She collapsed on the ground with sand in her eyes.

While Ike in great tears looked on in surprise

Ike in tears looked down on his lover.

He said, "Betsy get up, you'll get sand in your eyes"

With tears in his eyes he encouraged his lover to get up.

Well the Shanghai ran off and the cattle all died

Then the rooster ran off and the last cattle died off.

The last piece of bacon that mornin' was fried

This line explains how the last piece of food that they had was used up in the morning.

Ike he got discouraged and Betsy got mad

In this line it shows Ike's discouragement and Betsy frustration.

The dog wagged his tail and looked wonderfully sad

The dog sad and helpless just wagged his tail while his masters were frustrated.

Well a miner said, "Betsy will you dance with me"

Then Ike asked Betsy to dance.

"I will now old Hoss if you don't make too free

She then agreed to the miners request.

But don't dance me hard do you want to know why

She told Ike not to dance her too hard

Doggone you I'm chocked full of strong alkali"

She was frustrated with him as the conditions were poor.

Ike and sweet Betsy got married of course

Betsy and Ike became married.

But Ike gettin' jealous obtained the divorce

Ike then got jealous so he obtained for a divorce.

Betsy well satisfied said with a shout

Betsy was well satisfied with his decision and she yelled in satisfaction.

"Goodbye you big lummox, I'm glad you backed out"

She then insulted her old lover Ike and called him clumsy and stupid as he backed out.

Images related to the poem/Song

Characteristics of the poem This poem is very upbeat with a positive tone however towards the middle of the song conflict starts to arise and at the end. Irony occurs as the two lovers were not really in love at all. Even after the long journey together and the trouble they had already endured.

Theme and poetic language Throughout the poem imagery is used and repetition throughout the poem is evident. Rhyming is also something that occurs in the poem and one example of rhyming occurs on line five and six with the words "plat" and "flat"

About the Author it is quite unknown who officially wrote this ballad but earliest records show amounting back to 1858 of a writer named John A. Stone. Which then it was collected and published by Carl Sandburg in 1927. where then starting in 1941 different versions of the song started to release including famous artists like Johnny Cash.

Social and cultural context of ballad. The social relation of this poem is that is relates to the California gold rush back in the 1800s of a couple who is setting west from the east. Just like many in that time period.

Works cited: "Ballad of America." Sweet Betsy from Pike (American Folk Song) – Ballad of America. American Heritage Music, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.


Created with images by Wilson Hui - "Golden Gate Bridge" • comingstobrazil - "Ox Cart" • Yorkshire Reckless & Proud - "Wharncliffe Silkstone0133" • tpsdave - "rocky mountains colorado snow" • motoyen - "Gold Coins" • Moyan_Brenn - "Desert"

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