Three Songs

> Virginia

The title refers to the state (in today's terms) where Pocahontas lived, as well as to the Virgin Mary.

According to Brian Reed in his 2000 article "Hart Crane's Victrola" from the journal Modernism/Modernity (volume 7, issue 1), this poem re-works the lyrics to "Mary," a song from the musical Poppy, sheet music published in 1923, with lyrics by Irving Caesar and music by Stephen Jones. I got a copy of the lyrics from a library collection of sheet music. I believe they are still under copyright, but though I wrote twice to Alfred Publishing, they never responded, so I am following the standard publisher's tactic: I did my best to get permission, and will take the lyrics down on request. (This song is sometimes called "What do you do Sunday, Mary?" after the beginning of its chorus, but this is not the proper title.)

Just to be explicit, the lyrics in italics below are under copyright as best I can tell, so the Creative Commons license that governs the rest of this wiki does not apply to them.


Mary, You have not been so kind,
Mary, There's something on my mind,
Gladly, Would I believe in you,
Dearest, if I but knew,
All of the things you do;

What do you do Sunday, What do you do Monday, Mary?
What do you do Tuesday, What do you do Wednesday, Mary?
When ere I call you're hardly ever alone,
You always have some other plan of your own;
What do you do Thursday, What do you do Friday, Mary,
Where do you get this from, Where do you get that from, Mary?
It's only Saturday that you can be found;
What do you Mary, All week 'round?

(numbers refer to lines of the poem)

4: Mary : according to Lewis, a young stenographer who works at a brokerage office.

5: Gone seven--gone eleven : may be a play on the phrase "seven come eleven," which I believe comes from craps (see next note).

20: Crap-shooting gangs : the numbers seven and eleven (which appear in the first stanza) are important in the game of craps, in which one bets on the roll of two dice.

21: Peonies with pony manes : R. P. Blackmur, writing in 1935 (quoted in Bloom, p. 80), singles out this image as an example of Crane's failure as a poet. Blackmur says that the image is very fresh, but this is because it is arbitrary, and bears no relation to how peonies actually look.

15/23: high wheat tower . . . nickel-dime tower : believed by Lewis to represent the Woolworth Building in New York City, where Mary works (I don't know his evidence).

The Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, New York City, c. 1913

This page has been edited 10 times. The last modification was made by - MisterMartin MisterMartin on Mar 5, 2008 5:32 pm