Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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ROCK A WAY                                                      141
The song which recalls the days when Kockaway was a far-famed and fashion­able watering place, was the joint production of Henry John Sharpe and Henry Kussell. Mr. Sharpe, writer of the words, was a Philadelphia druggist, and also an ama­teur litterateur of forty years ago. These two men were associated in a piece of rhyme which appeared in Morris and Willis's New Mirror. The rhyme written by Sharpe recounts the incident that first induced Russell to visit the United States. It is called, " The Old Dutch Clock," and reads as follows:
At a lone inn, one dreary, dismal night,
It was my hapless fortune to alight.
The piercing wind howled round the chimney-tops;
Hark! how the hail against the lattice drops 1
What sound is that—methinks I hear a knock— 'Twas but the ticking of an " Old Dutch Clock:" I hate Dutch clocks — I know not why—it seems As if they were the harbinger of dreams.
Above the dial-plate a spectre stood, True to the very life—though carved in wood, A Saracen—whose huge, sepulchral eyes Rolled to and fro — ah me! how slow time flies 1
I sipped my punch—stirred up the smouldering fire, And wrapped my cloak around me to retire, Snugly ensconced upon an old arm-chair: Tick, tick! how terribly those eye-balls glare!
Methinks they gazed at me, then at the bowl,— " Meinheer, if thou art thirsty, by my soul, I'll pledge thee true, if thou'lt but let me sleep, By all the ' spirits of the vasty deep.'"
A sudden gust now shook the house around, The old Dutch clock came tumbling to the ground, The death-like ticking ceased — the eyes were still — The fire was nearly spent—the air was chill.
Amidst the shower of flying atoms rose Three phantom-spirits—hushl how hard it blows! The first, the eagle, joined to human form, Flapped his spread wings terrific with the storm.
He fixed his talons on my bosom fast, And thus addressed me-" Slave! I am the Past I What hast thou done that's worthy of a name, On the high record of immortal fame?"
A statue next, of a gigantic height,
"With lofty brow and eyes intensely bright,
In a sonorous voice distinctly said,
" Heed not the Past, he hath forever fled.
" I am the Present, list to what I say— All doubts and dangers then will flee away; The earth is stern and sterile—take this spade, Compel her bounty if you seek her aid."
Soft music broke upon my slumbering ear, Methought I heard a seraph's whisper near— It was the Future, robed in virgin white; In gentle woman's form it caught my sight.
"Awake! awake! from thy inglorious rest! And seek thy fortune in the boundless West!" Just then I woke—the pitiless storm was o'er, The old Dutch clock still ticking as before.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III