Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Whistle While You Work

Gene Logsdon, "Solo In The Silo," The Contrary Farmer (March 7, 2012):
I like to think that farmers sing because for the most part, farming is a happy, satisfying life.
And bankers don't sing, because banking is not? At least, I've never heard a banker sing while on the job. I guess they aren't even called bankers any more. A Union Bank commercial on BBC World News calls them "relationship managers". Such is the world we live in. "What do you want to be when you grow up, Johnny?" "A relationship manager."

Logsdon's delightful story of a hired hand singing "Panis Angelicus" reminded me of St. Jerome, Letters 46.12 (from Paula and Eustochium to Marcella, tr. W.H. Fremantle):
Wherever one turns the laborer at his plough sings alleluia, the toiling mower cheers himself with psalms, and the vine-dresser while he prunes his vine sings one of the lays of David. These are the songs of the country; these, in popular phrase, its love ditties; these the shepherd whistles; these the tiller uses to aid his toil.

quocumque te verteris, arator stivam tenens alleluia decantat, sudans messor psalmis se avocat et curva adtondens vitem falce vinitor aliquid Davidicum canit. haec sunt in hac provincia carmina, hae, ut vulgo dicitur, amatoriae cantiones, hic pastorum sibilus, haec arma culturae.
These very different lines from G.K. Chesterton, The Secret People, also come to mind:
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs.
Hat tip: Jim K.

Related post: I Hear America Singing.

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