Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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188              Music of the Waters.
their chance with facile temper, and are not soured by-hardships. The amenities of the Venetian sea and air, the healthiness of the lagoons, the cheerful bustle of the poorer quarters, the brilliancy of this southern sunlight, and the beauty which is everywhere apparent, must be reckoned as important factors in the formation of their character. And of that character, as I have said, the final note is playful­ness. In spite of difficulties, their life has never been stern enough to sadden them. . . . On the other hand, their life has never been so lazy as to reduce them to the savagery of the traditional Neapolitan lazzaroni. They have had to work daily for small earnings, but under favourable conditions, and their labour has been lightened by much good fellowship among themselves, by the amusements of their feste and their singing clubs."
The fact of the Venetian boatmen chanting strophes of Tasso is mentioned again and again in books treating of the life on the lagoons. The gondoliers of Venice used to chant' strophes of Tusso as they skimmed in and out of the lagoons ; but that was in the days of Venice's historical prime, and the gondolier of the nineteenth century has come down to the level of other boatmen, and though still associated with all that is most romantic and poetical, he is content to ply his oars to the same inspiriting strains as his fellow-country­men in Naples and elsewhere. 'On St. Mary's Day one may hear them chanting the well-known " Sicilian Mariners' Hymn":—

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