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The Bob Zentz Songbook

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Greencastle Jenny

From It's About Time

Adapted from the poem "Greencastle Jenny,"
a poem by Helen Gray Cone (1859-1934)
Music and text adaptation 1991, 2013, Bob Zentz

 


Greencastle streets were a stream of steel  (D/G)
With the slanted muskets the soldiers bore,  (D/A)
The raw earth shuddered and shook to feel  (D/G)
The tramp and the rumble of Longstreet's Corps;  (D/A/D)

The bands were blaring The Bonnie Blue Flag,  (G/D)
The banners borne were a motley many;  (D/G/D/A)
And watching that gray column wind and drag  (D/G)
Was a slip of a girl we'll call her Jenny.  (D/A/D)

     (bridge:  G/D    D/G/D/A/D)

A slip of a girl what needs her name?
Her eyes aflame, her lips aquiver,
As she stood and stared with a loyal shame
On the steady flow of that steely river:

And a storm grew dark in her hazel eyes
That time had not tamed, nor a lover sighed for;
And she went and girded her apron-wise,
In the flag she loved, that her brothers died for.


Then out of the doorway they saw her start
Pickett's Virginians were marching through,
The hot little foolish hero's heart
Armed with the stars and the sacred blue.

Clutching the folds of red and white
Stood she and bearded those ranks of theirs,
Yelling shrilly with all her might,
"Come on and take it, the man who dares!"


Ah, Pickett's Virginians were passing through;
Supple as steel and brown as leather,
Musty and dusty of hat and shoe,
Wonted to hunger and war and weather;

Peerless, fearless, an army's flower!
Sterner soldiers the world never saw,
Marching grimly, that summer's hour,
To death and failure and fame forever.


Then there rose from the rippling ranks a cheer;
Pickett saluted, with bold eyes beaming,
Sweeping his hat like a cavalier,
With his tawny locks in the warm sun streaming.

And fierce little Jenny! her courage fell,
As those gray lines flickered with friendly laughter,
And Greencastle streets gave back the yell
That Gettysburg slopes gave back soon after.


And so they cheered for the flag they fought
With a generous glow of the stubborn fighter,
Loving the brave as the brave men ought,
And never a finger was raised to fright her:

And on they marched, though they knew it not,
Through that warm green June to the shock infernal,
For the sound of the shell and the musket shot,
To the charge that has won them a name eternal.


And she knew at last, as she hid her face,
What had lain at the root of her childish daring
A trust in the men of her own brave race,
The secret of faith in the foe's forbearing.

And she wept, till the roll of the rumbling guns
And the steady tramp of the marching men
Were a memory only, and day was done,
And the stars in the fold of the blue again.


Thank God that the day of the sword is done,  (D/G)
And the stars in the fold of the blue again ....  (D/A/G)

 

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