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Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'

GUEST,Ooh-Aah 15 Dec 03 - 06:02 AM
Doktor Doktor 15 Dec 03 - 06:04 AM
GUEST,Ooh- Aah 15 Dec 03 - 06:04 AM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 03 - 06:12 AM
Fiolar 15 Dec 03 - 07:14 AM
Ella who is Sooze 15 Dec 03 - 07:32 AM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 03 - 01:19 AM
GUEST 16 Dec 03 - 09:25 AM
EBarnacle 16 Dec 03 - 10:49 AM
The Borchester Echo 16 Dec 03 - 10:57 AM
Metchosin 16 Dec 03 - 11:32 AM
Amos 16 Dec 03 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,JTT 16 Dec 03 - 01:59 PM
Nerd 16 Dec 03 - 04:11 PM
Joybell 16 Dec 03 - 04:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 03 - 06:32 PM
Dani 17 Dec 03 - 07:57 AM
Fiolar 17 Dec 03 - 09:17 AM
Dani 17 Dec 03 - 07:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Dec 03 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Chief Chaos 17 Dec 03 - 09:18 PM
JJ 18 Dec 03 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,John Hills 18 Dec 03 - 07:55 AM
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Subject: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: GUEST,Ooh-Aah
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 06:02 AM


Longfellow's "Wreck of the Hesperus" at Bartleby.com (click)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Doktor Doktor
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 06:04 AM

http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Poetry/Wreck.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: GUEST,Ooh- Aah
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 06:04 AM

Sorry, I pressed 'enter' too soon... my Mother used to say 'God, I look like the wreck of the Hesperus' - when and where was this wreck, and how did it enter the language as a proverb?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hespe
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 06:12 AM

Blimey. It's not quite in the same league as Hiawatha, is it?
My mother used to say that too. I'd really like to know how it entered the language too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hespe
From: Fiolar
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 07:14 AM

Here are a few possible sources of the poem. Take your pick:

(1) After the horrific wrecking of the schooner Hesperus on the reef of Norman's Woe, off Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1839, Longfellow was inspired to write one of his best-known poems. One of the bodies washed ashore was, in fact, lashed to a spar. This gave the poet his theme.

(2) The real Hesperus was docked when it was hit by such strong winds that it sailed across the street into the third story of a building. Longfellow had read about the 20 odd shipwrecks from this storm but couldn't get the picture of a woman tied to a mast washed up on shore out of his head. This prompted him to write the poem although he changed the victim from a 45 year old woman to a young girl.

(3) The actual Hesperus was a 3-mast coastal schooner docked at Boston's Long Wharf at the time of the hurricane. The wreck from which the morbid details were obtained was actually the brig Favorite, wrecked on the Norman's Woe rocks just outside of Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts. The Favorite was indeed a total loss with all on board, including a female.

(4) Apparently, there was a ship named "Herperus." But that's not the one that Longfellow immortalized. His poem is "The Wreck of the Hesperus" (note the "s" in the middle, not the "r").

(5) The Great Blizzards of 1839 inspired the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write The Wreck of the Hesperus

(6) On December 17, 1839 a disastrous storm hit the Atlantic coast, from Boston to Gloucester harbor. Seventeen schooners were wrecked and 40 lives were lost. Unable to sleep after reading the news in the Boston Post, Longfellow sat up one night long after midnight and composed the poem effortlessly.

(7) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, based his ballad, "The Wreck of the Hesperus," on the destruction of the Helen Eliza, which crashed off Peaks Island's shore in 1869.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hespe
From: Ella who is Sooze
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 07:32 AM

This is one of my fave most interesting paintings to sit in front of and examine. Its fab - loads going on... and you'll kind of get what they mean by wreck of the Hesperus...

another classic wreck

My mother permenanlty used to say I looked like the wreck of the Hesperus, especially when I used to come in looking bedraggled as a child. (playing out in the rain was the most common cause of this comment).


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Subject: ADD: Wreck of the Hesperus (Longfellow)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 01:19 AM

I suppose it's not in the same league as "Hiawatha," but I like it. I posted a link above to the text at Bartleby.com, but I think I'll also post their text here.
-Joe Offer-

777. The Wreck of the Hesperus
 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 

 
IT was the schooner Hesperus,
    That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
    To bear him company.
 
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,        5
    Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
    That ope in the month of May.
 
The skipper he stood beside the helm,
    His pipe was in his mouth,        10
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
    The smoke now West, now South.
 
Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
    Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
‘I pray thee, put into yonder port,        15
    For I fear a hurricane.
 
‘Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
    And to-night no moon we see!’
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
    And a scornful laugh laughed he.        20
 
Colder and louder blew the wind,
    A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
    And the billows frothed like yeast.
 
Down came the storm, and smote amain        25
    The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
    Then leaped her cable’s length.
 
‘Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
    And do not tremble so;        30
For I can weather the roughest gale
    That ever wind did blow.’
 
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
    Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,        35
    And bound her to the mast.
 
‘O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
    Oh say, what may it be?’
‘’Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!’—
    And he steered for the open sea.        40
 
‘O father! I hear the sound of guns,
    Oh say, what may it be?’
‘Some ship in distress, that cannot live
    In such an angry sea!’
 
‘O father. I see a gleaming light,        45
    Oh say, what may it be?’
But the father answered never a word,
    A frozen corpse was he.
 
Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
    With his face turned to the skies,        50
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
    On his fixed and glassy eyes.
 
Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
    That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,        55
    On the Lake of Galilee.
 
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
    Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
    Tow’rds the reef of Norman’s Woe.        60
 
And ever the fitful gusts between
    A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
    On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.
 
The breakers were right beneath her bows,        65
    She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
    Like icicles from her deck.
 
She struck where the white and fleecy waves
    Looked soft as carded wool,        70
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
    Like the horns of an angry bull.
 
Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
    With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,        75
    Ho! ho! the breakers roared!
 
At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
    A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
    Lashed close to a drifting mast.        80
 
The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
    The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown seaweed,
    On the billows fall and rise.
 
Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,        85
    In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
    On the reef of Norman’s Woe!
 


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 09:25 AM

I remember hearing that expression quite often and knew it had to do with a Longfellow Poem but I did not realize what the inspiration was.
Personally I have never liked Longfellow as a poet, I suppose having to read the awful"Evangeline" at school put me off him.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: EBarnacle
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 10:49 AM

"Last night the moon had a golden ring
and tonight no moon we see."

Interesting to compare with the similar lines:

"...I saw the old moon late yestereen,
With old moon in her arm."

Is it possible that Longfellow was being [consciously or otherwise] derivative?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hespe
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 10:57 AM

Must have been a Fairport Convention fan....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Metchosin
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 11:32 AM

Ella, The Pogues used that painting, with members of the band artfully worked into it, on the cover of the album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. Good album too.

When I was small, my Mum used to recite The Wreck of the Herperus to me, as it was one of the poems she learned by heart when she was young. She also introduced me to The Highwayman and the Yarn of the Nancy Bell around then. I never fully memorized The Wreck of the Hesperus, but I did manage to memorize the whole of The Yarn of the Nancy Bell........Kids are really weird......and its surprising what they can do for fun when they don't have a TV.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Amos
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 12:00 PM

That means it is you, after all, who is the cook, and the captain bold, and the mate -- right? A long mystery finally solved!!

A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 01:59 PM

That painting was the cause of a huge scandal in France - it illustrated too vividly the conditions in which the people on the ship Meduse were left when the ship sank without lifeboats provided, as far as I remember.

Here'a another eerie wreck picture; look closely and you can see the ship among the icefloes.

http://www.artsforge.com/agallery/hope.html


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Nerd
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 04:11 PM

Ebarnacle,

Yes, he was being consciously derivative of the ballad tradition. "Literary Ballads" were quite the rage for a while on both sides of the atlantic.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 04:26 PM

My mother, in Melbourne Australia, recited it for me too, and always said I looked like the Wreck of etc. I wondered how wide-spread the expression was. Funny idea I've always thought.
She also rather favoured "Mad Carew" - usually mistakenly, but logically, called "The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God". When I married my true-love I wanted a friend to recite "Mad Carew" but not knowing the correct title I couldn't find it. (That was before the internet) I said to the librarian at the Melbourne library, "I'm looking for a poem that starts - There's a green-eyed yellow idol to the North of.." I barely got that far before she reached under the counter and produced a copy on a sheet of paper. She had dozens of copies of that poem. Seems it was the most requested. I didn't ask about "The Wreck of the Hesperus" but It may have been a close second.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 06:32 PM

Learn all of Longfellow's poetry at: Longfellow
Torture your fellow man!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Dani
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 07:57 AM

Let's have some fun!

My mother said this to me, too! She was from New Jersey/Pennsylvania USA.

I so remember that from when I was little, that when I saw this thread, I heard it in her voice!

I'm going to ask her today. Go ask your mothers, too, if you still got 'em! And ask someone else. Let's see if we can find out why such an image became so widespread - and used in such a way.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hespe
From: Fiolar
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 09:17 AM

Joybell: You may be interested to know that there is a great recording of the "The Green Eye....." by Sean Tyrell.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Dani
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 07:37 PM

I asked my mother. She said HER mother used to say it all the time, and it usually applied if you'd been out in the rain, but could describe any state of general personal bedragglement.

Nana was born in 1919/'20.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 08:10 PM

The poem was declaimed in classrooms all over the English-speaking world for many years. No wonder it became a stock phrase. Interest in Longfellow's poetry declined about the time of WW2 as the old school of teachers passed on and recitations disappeared from school curicula.

Incidentally, the original title of the poem by J. Milton Hayes is "The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God," not Mad Carew. Cuthbert Clarke often is listed as co-author.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: GUEST,Chief Chaos
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 09:18 PM


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: JJ
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:17 AM

My mother (b. 1920) used this phrase often. She grew up in Marion, Indiana. We also had a volume of Longfellow in which I finally read the poem and figured out what she was talking about.

I (b. 1946) am of the last generation who had to learn poems in school. I grew up twenty miles south of Pittsburgh. However, we did Longfellow's "The Bridge" in sixth grade, not "The Wreck of the Hesperus."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: When/what was the wreck of the Hesperus'
From: GUEST,John Hills
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:55 AM

My mother also used the expression ( You look like the wreck of the HESPERUS) to my brother and me and we lived in SE London at the time. She also read the poem to us and I can remember we would fall about when she got to the line about her bosom. I expect as a young child I thought she was referring to her backside.


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