Monday, 18 February 2013

Susquehanna Mammy

A fictional song created by Lowry for Hugh's repertoire in Chapter 6 of Under The Volcano; "Well, he had other songs, the tides to some of which, Susquehanna Mammy, Slumbering Wabash, Mississippi Sunset, Dismal Swamp, etc., were perhaps revelatory, and that of one at least, I'm Homesick  for Being Homesick (of being homesick for home), Vocal Fox Trot, profound, if not positively Wordsworthian." (Pg. 169).

The song title related to Lowry's own juvenile song writing but is possibly inspired by James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Pioneers, or the Sources of the Susquehanna: a descriptive tale which makes reference to the American river and uses the derogatory word mammy - "a black woman serving as a nurse to white children especially formerly in the southern United States" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Lowry may have also had in mind the Joe Young/Sam Lewis song "My Mammy" plus Conrad Aiken's recollections of having a black nurse.

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