Thursday, July 6, 2017

Singing Past the Graveyard

     When I was younger I couldn't imagine the world going on without me. I guess I couldn't imagine that I would actually die, either. But if I ever did, I figured the world -- or at least the world as I knew it -- would end along with me.

     Of course now I'm older and wiser. I'm still in denial about my own death (okay, you can stop laughing). But now I can imagine the world going on after I'm gone. Maybe seeing our children as adults gives us some glimpse into the future -- a future without us.

     I don't mean to burden you with a morbid or macabre post. But the thought entered my mind during a July 4th celebration at our local park.

     There was a bike parade, a tug-o-war, a cake walk, a dog exhibition, as well as plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers and snow cones and cotton candy. There was also a music tent featuring a brass band playing patriotic songs and a husband-and-wife team playing old Irish ditties and American standards from Steven Foster, George M. Cohan and others.

     Then the duo sang "Oh My Darling, Clementine" written in 1884 and attributed to one Percy Montrose. It's such a familiar song, although not one I'd heard in years. In decades. Not since I was a kid. B and I wondered why the song is so ingrained in our minds. Was it a song we learned at camp? A lullaby sung to us by our mothers? We didn't know. But we listened to the lyrics as the duo sang . . .

Near a cavern, cross a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Lived a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine.
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Drove she ducklings to the water
Every morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter,
Fell into a foaming brine . . .

Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer.
So I lost my Clementine . . .

In the churchyard in the canyon
Where the myrtle doth entwine,
There grows roses and other posies
Fertilized by Clementine . . .

How I missed her, how I missed her
How I missed my Clementine,
Till I kissed her little sister,
And forgot my Clementine.

     Of course, the audience laughed at the end, as the banjo player winked and said, "Betcha don't remember that last line, do ya? Or maybe you just never got that far in the song."

     The song sounds like a lullaby, but is actually a parody of the usual sweet, sentimental song. And we sang it to our babies?!?

     Now it makes us laugh. It also reminds us that one day we, too, will be lost and gone forever, off to fertilize roses and other posies. But life continues, people forget, and the world moves on without us.

11 comments:

Celia said...

We learned Clementine in grade school during "music," all but those last two verses. Teacher must have done some editing because she was the one who made us memorize all of "The Highwayman." Not a fun tale either.

Dick Klade said...

Only the first few parts stick in my memory, and I haven't the slightest notion when or where I heard them. Thanks for adding some humor to my recollection of the tune be posting the whole thing.

Olga Hebert said...

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine.

That's the only part I remember.

Stephen Hayes said...

What? You're saying the world will continue when I'm gone? No way!!!

Mr J said...

If your theory is right about the roses and posies,by living a positive, full happy life, those flowers will surely be beautiful.

DJan said...

Interestingly, just the other day our hike leader Al was singing all the verses of that song, many of which I didn't know. But it's been going around inside my head since then, and here it comes again! :-)

Mona McGinnis said...

So many of those old songs are more than we think. Like "ring around the rosie" which was apparently an ode to an infectious disease that manifested with a rash! I've long ago resigned myself to the fact that the world will go on when I'm dead and gone. I'm at the stage of life where maintaining the local graveyard where my people are buried (and me, eventually) has become important to me. And I wonder who will tend to my grave when I'm gone, but that's another story.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Songs bring us together in so many ways.

retirementreflections said...

Like some of your other readers, we used to sing this song in elementary school as well...minus the last couple of paragraphs. I even Googled it to make sure that your paraders weren't playing a trick on you. They got it right....down to the last word! Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting!

Terra Hangen said...

I had forgotten the last verse, just like the singer soon forgot Clementine. LOL. Are you saying the world will go on without me? Are you sure? This is very disappointing news, just kidding. Jesus has assured me I will be in heaven with my loved ones so that is a good future.

Savoring Sixty said...

This always struck me as a sad song when I heard it as a child. After reading all of the verses I realize I was correct!!