(Poem #418) Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair, Borne, like a vapor, on the summer air; I see her tripping where the bright streams play, Happy as the daisies that dance on her way. Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour, Many were the blithe birds that warbled them o'er: Oh! I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair, Floating, like a vapor, on the soft summer air. I long for Jeanie with the daydawn smile, Radiant in gladness, warm with winning guile; I hear her melodies, like joys gone by, Sighing round my heart o'er the fond hopes that die:- Sighing like the night wind and sobbing like the rain,- Wailing for the lost one that comes not again: Oh! I long for Jeanie, and my heart bows low, Never more to find her where the bright waters flow. I sigh for Jeanie, but her light form strayed Far from the fond hearts round her native glade; Her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown, Flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone. Now the nodding wild flowers may wither on the shore While her gentle fingers will cull them no more: Oh! I sigh for Jeanie with the light brown hair, Floating, like a vapor, on the soft summer air.
Another of those wonderfully musical poems that practically sing themselves. Foster was a musician and singer as well as a poet (his most famous work was undoubtedly "Oh Susanna") and it shows - his words have a lyricism about them that blends well with the floating, flitting imagery, and keeps the sentimentality from drifting into triteness. Biography: Stephen Foster was born July 4, 1826, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Allegheny Academy, Athens Academy, and Jefferson College. He became a full-time musician in 1850, working for and with Christy's Minstrels, Campbell Minstrels, and the New Orleans Serenaders. His songs made him famous with the public. Married to Jane Denny McDowell, and with one daughter, Foster moved to New York City in 1860, but he soon succumbed to alcoholism and poverty, living alone in a Bowery hotel. He died on January 13, 1864, in Bellevue Hospital from injuries to his face and neck as a result of a fall in his hotel room. -- http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/authors/fosters.html See also http://www.geocities.com/~bblair/0703.htm for a somewhat more poignant statement of the above. Links: This poem reminds me irresistibly of Naidu's Palanquin Bearers: poem #390 We've run a few actual song lyrics on minstrels: poem #112 poem #114 poem #116 poem #119 poem #287 poem #299 and several poems that ought to be, but I'll leave you to make your own judgements about those. - martin