Old Folks at Home

Original Text: 
Old Folks at Home Ethiopian Melody As Sung by Christy's Minstrels Written and Composed by E. P. Christy (New York: Firth, Pond & Co., 1851). Facsimile in Stephen Foster, Minstrel-Show Songs, introduction by H. Wiley Hitchcock, Earlier American Music 14 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1980). M780.82 E13 no. 14 Toronto Metro Public Reference Library.
2Far, far away,
4Dere's wha de old folks stay.
5All up and down de whole creation,
6Sadly I roam,
7Still longing for de old plantation,
8And for de old folks at home.
9[Chorus] All de world am sad and dreary,
10Ebry where I roam,
12Far from de old folks at home.
13[Solo] All round de little farm I wandered
14When I was young,
15Den many happy days I squandered,
16Many de songs I sung.
17When I was playing wid my brudder
18Happy was I --.
19Oh! take me to my kind old mudder,
20Dere let me live and die.
21[Chorus] All de world am sad and dreary,
22Ebry where I roam,
23Oh! darkeys how my heart grows weary,
24Far from de old folks at home.
25[Solo] One little hut among de bushes,
26One dat I love,
27Still sadly to my mem'ry rushes,
28No matter where I rove
29When will I see de bees a humming
31When will I hear de banjo tumming
32Down in my good old home?
33[Chorus] All de world am sad and dreary,
34Ebry where I roam,
35Oh! darkeys how my heart grows weary,
36Far from de old folks at home.


1] Swanee ribber: the Suwannee river runs from Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia south through Florida into the Gulf of Mexico southwest of Gainesville. Back to Line
3] In general, to translate Foster's dialect, replace initial "d" or medial "dd" by "th," and "bb" by "v." Hence this line reads, "There's where my heart is turning ever." Back to Line
11] darkeys: affectionate name for African-Americans. Back to Line
30] comb: honeycomb. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.