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56 STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
other minstrel companies. Several of them were dedicated to special singers who introduced them to the public.
The other songs of this year were sentimental effusions of no great importance, except in so far as they indicate that Foster had ambitions aside from those of the burnt-cork stage. With the exception of "The Spirit of My Song," the words of all the songs are by the composer. They drip with melancholy sentiment, but in that respect they are not different from other poetic ebullitions of the day. The lyricists of the '40's and '50's concerned themselves chiefly with fair maidens who met untimely deaths, voices from by-gone days, and flowers that faded all too soon. Foster's Muse was no more tearful than any of her contemporaries. "Lily Ray" is one of the first of that numerous company of lovely departed maidens who occupy so prominent a place in Stephen Foster's writings:
Grief, to thy memory,
Tuneth a lay, Lovely, departed one,
Sweet Lily Ray.
Akin to Omar's
Alas, that spring should vanish with the rose, That youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close.
Ah, may the red rose live alway,
To smile upon earth and sky, Why should the beautiful ever weep,
Why should the beautiful die?
Lulled by the dirge in the cypress bough,
That tells of departed flowers, Ah! that the butterfly's gilded wing
Fluttered in evergreen bowers!
Sad is my heart for the blighted plants,
Its pleasures are aye as brief, They bloom at the young year's joyful call
And fade at the autumn leaf!
Another of these 1850 songs is