“Though nothing can bring back the hour,
Of splendor in the grass,
Of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not,
Rather find strength,
In what remains behind.” (William Wordsworth: “Splendor in the Grass”)
Many times it is good to reflect upon what “has been,” as long as we are realistic in knowing that once the hour is past, we can’t go back and recapture what “has been.”
The famous Nobel Prize winner for Literature, the late William Faulkner, from Oxford, Mississippi, once stated “The past is not dead. It isn’t even past.”
We all know of instances where, the past raises its head, attractive or less than attractive, and makes itself known.
If you don’t believe what I am expressing here, travel to any community in our part of the world and spend some time there, and you will experience the “rearing of the head” of the past, subtly or overtly.
Traditions are held dear by cultures, and, sometimes, I refer to them as “sacred cows.” Each community has those “sacred cows” and, trust me here, it’s best if the sacred cows are left content and chewing their “cud” that we allow that, because if they get “riled up,” and they have horns, they can hook you and that hooking can be painful and leave lasting scars.
I have witnessed it more times that one.
This past Sunday, I had the joy, once again, of emceeing the Stephen Foster Day Program over at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. I have emceed many of these programs through the years, and I enjoy each one. Each one bears similarities, and, yet, each one is different.
Through the years, folks have poked fun at me in a jocular way. They have called me “Johnny Foster.” They have said: “You have spent so much time there through the years they should rent you a room.”
There was a time I did. I haven’t over the past several years, and I realized the “Past is the past” and while I had my day “in the sun” as it were at Stephen Foster, it was time to turn the reins over to others with ideas that may have differed from some of mine, but so many are great and progressive ideas.
During the program I thought about the lyrics of Stephen Foster. All of them are over a century and a half old, as Foster died in 1864 and yet, if we string some of them together, they can still have meaning for us yesterday, today and, perhaps, tomorrow. Let’s have a little fun with them. He put our area on the map with the composition and publication of “Old Folks at Home” or “Way down upon the Swanee River.”
Here we go…as we continue into the New Year…
For young folks in school, “Ah my heart is sick with longing, Longing for the May, Longing to escape from study.”
“Ah my heart is pained and throbbing, Throbbing for the May, Throbbing For the seaside billows.” “Summer Longings” 1849, Stephen Foster.”
For our wonderful senior citizens, “I sit me down by my own fireside, when the winter nights come on, and I calmly dream, as the dim hours glide, of many pleasant scenes now gone.” “Happy Hours at Home” 1860, Stephen Foster.
For the dog lovers, “Old dog Tray’s ever faithful, Grief cannot drive him away. He’s gentle, he is kind; I’ll never, never find. A better friend than old dog Tray.” “Old Dog Tray”, 1853, Stephen Foster.
And for anyone: “Some folks like to sigh, Some folks do, Some folks do, Some folks long to die, But that’s not me nor you. Long live the merry, merry heart That laughs by night and day, Like the Queen of Mirth, No matter what some folks say.“ “Some Folks” 1855, Stephen Foster.
And this one still timely’ “Hard Times, Hard Times, come again no more. Many days you have lingered around my cabin door. Oh, hard times, come again no more.” “Hard Times Come Again No More” 1855, Stephen Foster.
For the nomads we have all known: “Ho! For Lou’siana I’m bound to leave this town. I’ll take my duds and tote em on my back when the Glendy Burk comes down.” “The Glendy Burk” 1855, Stephen Foster.
One for a dear friend of mine now departed. “Ah May the Red Rose live always to smile upon earth and sky. Why must the beautiful ever weep? Why must the beautiful die?” “Ah May the Red Rose Live Alway”, 1850, Stephen Foster.
And of course, we must end with the all-time classic…
“Way down upon the Swanee River. Far, far away. There’s where my heart is turning ever. There’s where the old folks stay. “Old Folks at Home” 1851, Stephen Foster.
Timeless lyrics, sacred cows. Wonderful memories. With these classic American songs, you may, indeed, for just a brief time, be able to capture that “splendor in the grass.”
From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.
”Doo-dah” (From: “Camptown Races” 1850).