Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

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

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Other lvrics of Thomas Hood's have been set to music; but none have been familiarly sung except the one that follows. The story of Hood's life,-of his poverty, his extreme and constant bodily suffering, his domestic love and loss, his manly struggles and" his boy-ish) mirth —is a twice-told tale. He tells us, in his " Literary Reminiscences," that he—
sat upon a lofty stool, At lofty desk, and with ■ clerkly pen Began each morning, at the stroke of ten, To write in Bell A Co.'s commercial school; In Warnford Court, a shady nook and cool, The favorite retreat of merchant men; Yet would my quill turn vagrant even then,
And take stray dips in the Castalian pool. Now double entry—now a flowery trope-Mingling poetic honey with trade wax— Blogg Brothers—Milton—Grote and Prescott—Pope— Bristles—and Hogg—Glyn Mills and Halifax-Rogers—and Towgood—Hemp—the Bard of Hope-Barilla—Byron—Tallow—Burns—and Flax!
And in a characteristic letter to Bulwer, he says: " I must die in harness, like a hero or a horse." Hood, who thought that " next to being a citizen of the world, it must be the best thing to be bora a citizen of the world's greatest city," was so born, in real Cockneydoni, close to Bow Bells, London, May 23d, 1798. He died May 3d, 1845, and was buried in Ken-sail Green Cemetery. Eliza Cook visited his grave, and found it entirely unmarked. Nine years were suffered to pass before there was anything to note a tomb except the too familiar rounded heap of sod. Then, amid a vast multitude of sad and silent spectators. Hood's statue was unveiled there. The graceful vigor of Miss Cook's lines, no less than their subject, justifies their citation in full.
What gorgeous cenotaphs arise, of Parian shrine and granite vault; What blazoned claims on purer skies, that shut out earthly flaw and fault! Who lies below yon splendid tomb, that stretches out so broad and tall? The worms will rarely ne'er exhume a sleeper locked within such wall.
And sec that other stately pile of chiselled glory, staring out! Come, sexton, leave your work awhile, and tell us what we ask about. So! one belongs to him who held a score of trained and tortured steeds— Great Circus Hero, unexcelled,—on what strange stuff Ambition feeds!
The other guards the last repose of one who shone by juggling craft.
Mithinks when such a temple rose, how Esculapius must have laughed. And see that tomb beneath yon tree!—but, sexton, tell us where to find The grave of him we came to see;—is it not here, or are we blind?
We mean poor Hood's—the man who made that song about the " Bridge of Sighs.'* You know the song; well, leave your spade, and please to show us where he lies. What! there! without a single mark—without a stone—without a line-Does watehflre Genius leave no spark to note its ashes as divine?
Must strangers come to woo his shade, scanning rare beauties as they pass; And when they pause where he is laid, stop at a trodden mound of grass? And is it thus? Well, we suppose, England is far too poor to spare A slab of white, where Truth might write the title of her Poet Heir.
l«t us adorn our city walks with senate-form and soldier-chief—
Carve toga-folds and laurel stalks,—let marble shine in robe and leaf.
But Hood—" poor Hood"—the poet fool, who sung of women's woes and wrongs,
Who taught his Master's golden rule,—give him no statue for his songs!
tiive him the dust beneath his head, give him a grave—a grave alone-In life he dearly won his bread, in death he was not worth a stone. Perhaps we rightly think that he who flung God's light round lowly things, Can soar above in memory's love, supported bv »»u own strong wings.