Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Day #348

As you're undoubtedly aware, today is Emily Dickinson's 178th birthday. Because she could not stop for death he kindly stopped for her.

Perhaps you're not aware that you can sing many of Dickinson's poems to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas," which is just one of the many random pieces of information that clog my brain and prevent me from remembering where I parked my car.

So, in honor of her birthday, I gathered some of the friends who helped plan Floyd's birthday party to feast on leftovers and have a foot stompin' Belle of Amherst Hootenanny.

Here's our hillbilly version of "I Felt a Funeral in My Brain." I've included the words if you'd care to sing along and mostly because you can hardly understand a thing we say:



I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And being, but an ear,
And I and Silence some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here.

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then –

(Repeat) I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

Can't get enough? Here's a list of some others, which I compiled myself as a service to poetry lovers and hillbillies everywhere.

Hope is the thing with feathers...
God gave a loaf to every bird...
Success is counted sweetest...
I measure every grief I meet...
He ate and drank the precious words...
I taste a liquor never brewed...
I heard a Fly buzz - when I died...
The soul should always stand ajar...
You left me, sweet, two legacies...
There is no frigate like a book...
My life closed twice before it closed...
Because I could not stop for death...
The dying need but little, dear...
This is my letter to the world...

Sidenote: In the course of my research, I discovered that the yellow rose in "The Yellow Rose of Texas" refers to a real-life slave named Emily West Morgan, who was captured by Mexican troops, forced to be the mistress of the commander and eventually spied for American soldiers, who rewarded her with her freedom. The nickname came from her being of mixed race, what used to be called "high yellow." Like "Oh Susannah," which is about an escaped slave, the song is a chipper tribute to the cruelties of slavery.

Which are just more facts to keep me from ever remembering where I parked.

2 comments:

miguelaron said...

i guess the video was taken down? was it too lewd?

Peter said...

The many, many useless bits of trivia that are the result of my fabulous liberal arts degree also prevent me from remembering things like my social security number, partner's birthdate, and where I parked my car.