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“The Gypsy’s Warning”

She would rather sing than think at all. She could hum very softly without interrupting the talk, and then often Ma and Mrs. Boast and Mary would sing with her. Mrs. Boast had taught them two new songs. Laura liked “The Gypsy’s Warning”… — By the Shores of Silver Lake, Chapter 22, “Happy Winter Days”

The Gypsy’s Warning (often “gipsy’s” or “gipsies”) may have been a new song to the Ingalls family in 1880 but it had been published during the Civil War. “The Gypsy’s Warning” was written by Henry A. Coard and published by D.S. Holmes of New York in 1864. It was a warning to all beautiful young ladies to beware of a “dark-eyed stranger.”

Henry Coard was born about 1812 in England and was a music teacher and piano tuner in Brooklyn, New York, before the Civil War. In the 1880s he ran a music store on Broadway.


Do not trust him, gentle lady, though his voice be low and sweet,
Heed not him who kneels before you, gently pleading at thy feet.
Now thy life is in its morning; cloud not this thy happy lot,
Listen to the gypsy’s warning, gentle lady, heed him not.
Listen to the gypsy’s warning, gentle lady, head him not.

Do not turn so coldly from me, I would only guard thy youth,
From his stern and withering power, I would only tell the truth.
I would shield thee from all danger, save thee from tempter’ snare,
Lady shun the dark-eyed stranger, I have warned thee, now beware.

Lady, once there lived a maiden, pure and bright, and like thee, fair,
But he wooed and wooed and won her, filed her gentle heart with care.
Then he heeded not her weeping, nor cared he her life to save,
Soon she perished, now she’s sleeping in the cold and silent grave…

Keep thy gold, I do not wish it. Lady, I have prayed for this,
For the hour that I might foil him, rob him of expected bliss.
Gentle lady, do not wonder at my words, so cold and wild,
Lady, in that green grave yonder lies the gypsy’s only child.

Lady, do not heed her warning. Trust me, thou shalt find me true,
Constant as the light of morning I will ever be to you.
Lady, I will not deceive thee, fill thy guileless heart with woe,
Trust me, lady, and believe me; sorrow thou shall never know.

Stranger, I’ve been thinking sadly, how you promised, wooed and won,
How her innocent love gladly heard fair words, built hopes thereon.
Now she’s in the cold ground sleeping by the river’s moaning wave,
And the willows now are weeping o’er that maiden’s early grave.

Warnings from that grave do tell me, and a living voice I hear,
Of a wooer who would seek me, pleading by a love sincere.
That without me, life is sorrow; take this hand and heart of mine,
Promise bliss for every morrow, then forsake me, let me pine.

Stranger, I will heed the warning coming from the river’s side,
Flowers you strew there in the morning, I’ll renew at eventide.
There we’ll walk, but not together, for the gypsy tells me true,
Mourns her child in tears that smother every kindly thought of you.

Lady, every joy would perish, pleasures all would wither fast,
If no heart could love and cherish in this world of storm and blast.
E’en the stars that gleam above thee shine the brightest in the night,
So would he who fondly loves thee, in the darkness be thy light.

Down beside the flowing river where the dark green willow weeps,
Where the leafy branches quiver, there a gentle maiden sleeps.
In the morn a lonely stranger comes and lingers many hours,
Lady, he’s no heartless ranger, for he strews her grave with flowers.

Lady, heed thee not her warning, lay thy soft white hand in mine,
For I seek no fairer laurel than the constant love of thine.
When the silver moonlight brightens, thou shalt slumber on my breast,
Tender words thy soul shall lighten, lull thy spirit into rest.

Down beside yon flowing river, there bereft where willows weep,
There must lie that fair one ever. Stranger, why these vigils keep?
Why go there alone and early, all those mornings flowers to strew?
Did you love, in truth, so dearly? Do you grieve as others do?


(from By the Shores of Silver Lake)

Do not trust him, gentle lady,
Though his voice be low and sweet,
Heed not him who kneels before you,
Gently pleading at your feet,
Now thy life is in the morning,
Cloud not this, thy happy lot,
Listen to the gypsy’s warning,
Gentle lady, heed him not.

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Click on the above images to view a copy of original sheet music for “The Gypsy’s Warning.”    


“The Gypsy’s Warning “ (SSL 26; PG)
     “Do not trust him, gentle lady”