Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Hard times come again no more.

Forgive the parochial nature of  this post..  I am British by birth and an American citizen, so whilst I am perfectly aware of the hard times in many countries, I write this from and for an Anglo-American perspective. 

In the light of the ghastly and dangerous stand-off  in the American House of Representatives , I have had the chorus of one of Stephen Foster's songs on my mind all day. They go like this:

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.


Foster, who himself knew many hard times,  penned these words in in 1854, less than a decade before the American Civil War (or whatever you chose to call it)  when hard times were visited upon hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Thanks to the perfidy of conservative politicians, and the recklessness of bankers and financiers, and the short sighted policies of business leaders and investors  the hard times are being yet again imposed upon the working poor and the working middle classes in in Great Britain and in  the U.S.A.


But 


1. The very poor never expected anything better.

2. The working poor hoped that their hard work would bring some measure of  economic security.

3. The lower middle classes had high hopes of fairly comfortable lives and peaceful retirements.

Each of these groups have been victimized by the typical conservative parties ( Republicans and Tea party members in the U.S.A., and  Tory and Liberal Democratic parties in the U.K.).

Each of these groups have been betrayed by the so-called left wing or liberal parties (Democratic Party in the U.S.A. and Labour Party in the U.K.)

Hard times come again no more?  Fuggetit.  They are with us even now.
 
Stephen Foster's words are a powerful lament for our own times:


Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

In my own powerlessness I sing this lament for the poor in every place.  jmp
 
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NOTES
 
A.  Wikipedia will be a useful source for British people etc. who know very little about Stephen Foster, even as they are familiar with some of his songs: "Old Folks At Home", "Beautiful Dreamer" , "Jeannie with the light brown hair",  "O Susanna".
 
 
B.  You Tube has a number of renditions of "Hard Times". 
 
One, by Thomas Hanson is a restrained and poignant version. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPCgMCyhH44





Another, by Emmy Lou Harris expresses all the passion of the song.

 
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09KCf_-wby4&feature=em-share_video_user

If these links fail please do a You Tube search for "Hard Times Come Again More"  where you will find both the Emmy Lou Harris and Thomas Hanson versions.
 
 
C.   Here are the words.
 
1.
Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Chorus:
Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.



2.
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.

Chorus

3.
There's a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o'er:
Though her voice would be merry, 'tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Chorus

4.
Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more.

Chorus

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