The words to this song come from ‘The Tomb’, a story written by the American writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937). A young man, Jervis Dudley, has an increasing obsession with the past. Spending many nights in the doorway of an old tomb on his family’s land, Jervis begins to have increasingly vivid visions of a different era, where he imagines life as a young buck, drinking, blaspheming and revelling in a Hellfire-club scenario. Becoming increasingly fixated by the world of his visions, he begins to adopt an antiquated demeanour and the dialect of its denizens. He describes how ‘gay blasphemy poured in torrents from my lips and in shocking sallies I heeded no law of God or nature’, and indeed, this song would appear to be one of those ‘shocking sallies’. Thematically, the song is similar to De Brevitate Vitae (‘On the Shortness of Life’), better known as Gaudeamus Igitur (‘So Let Us Rejoice’). A graduation song, it dates back to the early 18th century, and is commonly sung at ceremonies in universities throughout Europe. The melody is set to the air of a traditional jig ‘The Coleraine’.
Come hither my lads with your tankards of ale,
And drink to the present before life should fail
Pile each on your platter a mountain of beef,
Cos it's eating and drinking what brings us relief
So fill up your glass, for life will soon pass,
When you're dead you'll ne'er drink to your king nor your lass,
Anacreon had a red nose so they say,
But what's a red nose if you're happy and gay?
God split me I'd rather be red whilst I'm here,
Than white as a lily and dead half the year,
Come hither my miss and give us a kiss,
In Hell there's no innkeepers daughter like this.
Young Harry propped up just as straight as he's able,
Will soon lose his wig and slip under the table,
So fill up your glasses and pass them around,
Better under the table than under the ground.
So revel and chaff as ye thirstily quaff,
Under six feet of dirt it's less easy to laugh,
The fiend strike me blue I'm scarce able to walk,
And damn if I can't stand upright or talk.
Here landlord bid Betty to summon a chair,
I'll try home for a while for my wife is not there,
So lend us a hand I'm not able to stand,
But I'm gay whist I linger on top of the land.
from Cold Old Fire
released May 25, 2014
Tracks trad. arr. Lynched
Words H.P. Lovecraft
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