The Shantyman's Life

Midwest Region

Many songs were written to provide entertainment for people in the evenings.  This occupational song describes life at a Wisconsin lumber camp.  Read carefully and you will know what life was like for a lumberjack, a person who worked cutting down trees to provide lumber for our growing nation.


1.      A shanty lad, he leads a dreadful, dreary life,
Though some call it free from care,     
When he swings on his axe from morning until night
In the middle of the forest so drear.

2.      Transported I am from my own native land
Near the banks of the old Delever,
Where the wolves and the owls, with their terrifying growls,
Disturb our nightly dreams.

3.      At two or three o'clock , there's our noisy, noisy cook
As she shouts out bold, "Boys, it's day!"
And broken slumbering the cold, frosty nights,
The cold, wintry nights away.

4.      As soon as the daylight star does appear,
To the wild woods, boys, we will go;
We'll swing on our axe from morning until night
For the forest to lay low.

5.      When springtime comes in, double hardship does begin,
When the water is piercing cold;
Our clothing are all wringing wet,
Our hands scarce the pike poles could hold

6.      The rocks, breaks and jams give employment to all hands,
Our well bounded rafts for to steer;
And the rapids that we run to us are only fun
 In the middle of the forest so drear.

7.      Had we gin, wine or beer our spirits for to cheer
While we to the shanty alone;
 Had we a glass of any shone, while lying here alone,
We'd forget old
Erin 's isle.

8.      We'll enjoy one 'nother's hearts, till death does us part
Should our riches be great or small;
We'll enjoy one 'nother's hearts, till death does us part
Should our riches be great or small.


Return to Midwest Region Lyrics Sheet Finale File

Folk song arrangement by Michael Burkhardt

With thanks to Sharon Ogorzalek
Created: July 2005, Last Updated: 07/28/10