Leben mit Herman Melville

Rogue’s Gallery: The Art of the Siren, #22

with 2 comments

Song: Richard Greene & Jack Shit: Shenandoah (instrumental, 2:58 minutes)
from Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI- 2006.
Buy CD in Germany and elsewhere.
Image: Ruth’s own favourite body part, summer 2008.

Explanatory liner notes by ANTI-:

This beautiful American song was originally used by river boatmen and voyageurs on the Ohio and Missouri rivers. It became a popular capstan chantey among deep water sailors. Shenandoah is said to have been a chief of the Oneida tribe.

Shenandoah River joins the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where abolitionist John Brown and 21 men started their Raid on Harpers Ferry, attacking the Federal armory from October 16 to 18th 1859 to initiate a slave rebellion — whilst Shenandoah Valley would be the site of battles from 1862 to 1864 in the Civil War arising from incidents like that — including Kernstown, First and Second Battle of Winchester, Cross Keys, Opequon Creek, Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek.

Herman Melville was aware of John Brown’s hanging, though, of course, not of all the blood yet to be spilt, when in 1859 he wrote his early Battle-Piece:

The Portent

Hanging from the beam,
     Slowly swaying (such the law),
Gaunt the shadow on your green,
The cut is on the crown
(Lo, John Brown),
And the stabs shall heal no more.

Hidden in the cap
     Is the anguish none can draw;
So your future veils its face,
But the streaming beard is shown
(Weird John Brown),
The meteor of the war.

Written by Wolf

9. March 2009 at 2:41 am

Posted in Siren Sounds

2 Responses

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  1. Wirklich wunderschön. Eine Melodie, mit der du hin fühlst zu ihren Ursprüngen an den großen Flüssen, die ihre Geschichten erzählen…

    Und wie Zusammenhänge sich gleich wieder weben: wenn John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry erwähnt wird und du, Wolf, noch das zugehörige Melvillesche Battle-Piece deklamierst, da muss einem einfach ‘John Brown’s Body’ (von Paul Robeson gesungen) einfallen, dessen Melodie bis heute für die Battle Hymn of the Republic hergenommen wird. – Hach, da merkt man wieder mal, wie sehr die eigene Seele von Klängen lebt… :o)

    Nur ‘n kleiner Korrekturhinweis noch (kannssu dann auch wieder löschen) :o): das Datum des John-Brown-Angriffs war der 16. Oktober 1859, am 2. Dezember wurde er gehenkt.


    9. March 2009 at 10:59 pm

  2. Stimmt — so schnell hängen nicht mal die Confederates… Glory hallelooojah.


    10. March 2009 at 12:02 am

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