Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Song to Sing

I was sitting at home on a blizzardy winter day, reading Our Home and Family by Laura Baxter (copyright 1952), and I came across this section that I simply have to share with you:

"Schoolgirls seldom have the full responsibility of caring for the house. [...]  Tasks commonly given to them include the care of their own room, sweeping and brushing, taking care of cupboards and closets, caring for the bathroom, cleaning and polishing the silverware and other metals, keeping tables and desks in order, and washing dishes and utensils. Here is a song for cleaning day that should keep a girl's heart content that she has such jobs to do:

Brown soap can brew a scrubbing froth
Fragrant as orange peel or tar;
It makes a closet or a cloth
As fresh as dogwood blossoms are;
And wax, that amber soft and slow,
Embalms old carving in a glow.

Polish can turn a bowl of brass
Into a bell that beats a gleam,
Can  make a silver dish a glass
Of lights like birches in a dream;
While bright as peaches copper blooms
Out of the corners of the rooms.

There could not be a blither work
Than skill with pumice, brush, and soap,
To bring a bright thing from a dark,
To fill the house with lamps of hope.
And so before the morning goes
Put stars among the goblet-rows.

Oh boy.  Where do I start on this one? 

First of all, what the heck kind of a song is that?!  If my mom would have sat me down and said, "Honey, let's learn this fun song!" and then pulled that thing out, I would have laughed (respectfully and politely) in her face.  It doesn't make sense, and the rhyme scheme is super funky.  Were fifties children far more poetically inclined than our generation of lazy millenials?  Because the extent of my clean up music was "Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share" from Barney.

Also, the blurb before the song says that it is supposed to keep a girl's heart content that she has such jobs to do.  Umm...really?  Let's take a look into little Suzie's 1952 conversation with her mom:

Mom: Suzie dear, would you please polish the silver?
Suzie: Golly gee, Mom, do I gotta? 
Mom: You have to do it, Suzie, but good news: you can sing the bat-crap-crazy cleaning song I taught you!
Suzie: Holy moly!  What fun!  Now my heart is content.  Where's the silver?!

Sorry Ms. Baxter, that didn't happen.  Ever.  Your song is freaky and weird. 

Does anyone else think that this author just wanted to be a poet, but no one would buy her weird poetry so she just inserted it into her textbooks so she could see it in print?  Because that's what I think.

I'm trying to follow the advice in these books, so I tried singing while cleaning today.  I actually tried singing that specific song (I tried to come up with a melody, but that got pretty boring so I ended up rapping it instead.  I bet that's not what Laura Baxter was going for).  I actually got less cleaning done because I couldn't figure out the dumb song.  Elvis looked at me like I was nuts, and he was probably right.  I decided to give up on the dishes and come write this entry.  So really...the cleaning song completely backfired.  I'm going to try again with the Barney version and see if I do better.

1 comment:

  1. Haha! Love this! I find that music in general can keep me more motivated at times. But this song - it's not gonna do it for me either!