This is a humorous and moralist folk ballad
apparently of American
origin, with an unknown author. Many variations can be found; four unique, but similar, variations are presented.
A Texas cowboy lay down on a barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.
The engine with murderous blood was damp
And was brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp, for fuel, was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with lager beer
And the devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers were a most motley crew—
Church member, atheist, Gentile, and Jew,
Rich in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies, and withered old hags,
Yellow and black men, red, brown, and white,
All chained together—O God, what a sight!
While the train rushed on at an awful pace—
The sulphurous fumes scorched their hands and face;
Wider and wider the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew.
Louder and louder the thunder crashed
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became
Till the clothes were burned from each quivering frame.
And out of the distance there arose a yell,
"Ha, ha," said the devil, "we're nearing hell!"
Then oh, how the passengers all shrieked with pain
And begged the devil to stop the train.
But he capered about and danced for glee,
And laughed and joked at their misery.
"My faithful friends, you have done the work
And the devil never can a payday shirk.
"You've bullied the weak, you've robbed the poor,
The starving brother you've turned from the door;
You've laid up gold where the canker rust,
And have given free vent to your beastly lust.
You've justice scorned, and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down.
You have drunk, rioted, cheated, plundered, and lied,
And mocked at God in your hell-born pride.
"You have paid full fare, so I'll carry you through,
For it's only right you should have your due.
Why, the laborer always expects his hire,
So I'll land you safe in the lake of fire,
"Where you flesh will waste in the lames that roar,
And my imps torment you forevermore."
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes wet with sweat and his hair standing high
Then he prayed as he never had prayed till that hour
To be saved from his sin and the demon's power;
And his prayers and his vows were not in vain,
For he never rode the hell-bound train.
A drunkard lay on the bar-room floor
He drunk till he could not drink no more;
He went to sleep with a troubled brain
And dreampt he was on the hell-bound train.
The fireman he was a crazy tramp,
An' the headlight it is a brimstone lamp,
The tank was full of lager beer,
An' the Devil himself was the engineer.
The train it flew at an awful pace,
The brimsione a-burnin' both hands an' face,
An' worse an' worse the roadbed grew,
An' faster an'faster the engine flew.
He blowed the whistle an' rung the bell,
An' the Devil says, "Boys, the next stop's Hell,"
An' all the passengers yelled with pain
An' begged the Devil to stop the train.
But the Devil he laughed at their misery,
He hollered an' roared an' yelled with glee,
You paid your fare, with the rest of my load,
An' you got to ride to the end of the road.
You robbed the weak an' done wrong to the pore,
Turned hungry folks away from your door,
You laid up gold till your purses bust,
You ruined young gals with your beastly lust.
You mocked at God in your stubborn pride,
You murdered an' killed an' cheated an' lied,
You double-crossed partners an' cussed an' stole,
You belong to me both body an'soul.
You paid your fare at Shamrock's bar,
An' now you'll ride in the Devil's car,
An' here's one time when I am no liar,
I'll carry you all to the land of fire.
Your bones will burn in the flames that roar,
You'll scorch an' sizzle from rind to core,
Then the barroom rang with a awful scream
As the drunkard woke from his turrible dream.
Down on his knees on the barroom floor,
He prayed as he never had prayed before,
His prayers an' vows was not in vain,
An' he rode no more on the hell-bound train.
fell down on a bar room floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more.
Asleep he lay with a screaming brain,
Dreaming he rode on a hell-bound train.
An eerie glow from a brimstone lamp,
Shot fear through the heart of the drunken tramp.
Within the engine came thousands of groans,
As a demon fed it dying men's bones.
Satan was the train's engineer,
Whose imps filled the boiler with rot-gut beer.
The passengers were a motley crew,
Church member, Atheist, Gentile and Jew.
There were rich men in silks, beggars in rags,
Beautiful young girls, and withered old hags.
Black men and brown, mixed and white,
All chained together what a terrible sight.
The drunkard's train flew at an awful pace,
Into heat that scorched skin from his hands and face.
As the scenery grew wilder he heard a hideous yell,
Welcome suckers, you are now entering hell.
Together the damned shrieked in pain,
Begging old Nick to stop the train.
But he just danced about and sang with glee,
While laughing and joking at their agony.
The oldest to the youngest knew, for sin they must pay,
And that all would be damned this horrible day.
You, bullied the weak, robbed the poor,
And drove the starving from your door.
You put your wealth to rot and rust,
In gold and silver and beastly lust.
You laughed at justice and corruption was sown,
Then deafened your ear to the poor man's moan.
You rioted, murdered, divorced and lied,
Then mocked Sweet Christ Jesus in your hell-bound pride.
Now it's time to get your hire,
Eternity fool, in the Lake of Fire.
Your flesh will roast in flames that roar,
And a worm will eat your body for ever more.
Shaking with fear and wet with sweat,
The drunk awoke from the dream he would never forget.
He cried "Christ Jesus, save me from the doom of the damned,
Heal me with a touch from your nail-pierced hand."
Listen sinner, live no more in vain,
Repent or you too will ride, the hell-bound train.
A Texas cowboy
on a barroom floor
Had drunk so much he could hold no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on the hell-bound train.
The engine with human blood was damp,
And the headlight was a brimstone lamp
An imp for fuel was shoveling bones,
And the furnace roared with a thousand groans.
The tank was filled with lager beer,
The devil himself was engineer;
The passengers were a mixed-up crew--
Churchman, atheist, Baptist, Jew;
The train rushed on at an awful pace
And sulphur fumes burned hands and face;
Wilder and wilder the country grew,
Fast and faster the engine flew.
Loud and terrible thunder crashed.
Whiter, brighter lightning flashed;
Hotter still the air became
Till clothes were burned from each shrinking frame.
Then came a fearful ear-splitting yell,
Yelled Satan, "Gents, the next stop's hell!"
Twas then the passengers shrieked with pain
And begged the devil to stop the train.
He shrieked and roared and grinned with glee,
And mocked and laughed at their misery,
"My friends, you've bought your seats on this road
I've got to go through with the complete load."
"You've bullied the weak, you've cheated the poor,
The starving tramp you've turned from the door,
You've laid up gold till your purses bust,
You've given play to your beastly lust.
You've mocked at God in your hell-born pride.
You've killed and you've cheated; you've plundered and lied,
You've double-crossed men and you've swore and you've stole,
Not a one but has perjured his body and soul.
"So you've paid full fare and I'll carry you through;
If there's one don't belong, I'd like to know who,
And here's the time when I ain't no liar,
I'll land you all safe in the land of fire.
"There your flesh will scorch in the flames that roar,
You'll sizzle and scorch from rind to core."
Then the cowboy awoke with a thrilling cry,
His clothes were wet and his hair stood high.
And he prayed as he never until that hour
To be saved from hell and the devil's power
His prayers and his vows were not in vain
And he paid no fare on the hell-bound train.