Of Ditties and Dialects

12 03 2011

Egypt My Cleopatra-small

Egyptomania is a strange melange of parts, the product of exaggerated romantic fancies pitted against the shifting sands of scholarship.  In this piece of sheet music from 1903, we find references to the belief that ancient Egyptians were black – which is still being debated – and the pathetic racist attitude that flavored the entertainment industry.  From a graphic standpoint, the Egyptian references are quite weak, consisting only of flat pyramid forms which could just as well be triangles.  As for the woman’s profile against the moon – she looks white to me.  You do the math.

Lyrics – Clare Kummer
Music – Clare Kummer
Publisher – Jos. W. Stern & Co., various locations

Far, far away, I know dey say, dere is a lovely Land,
An’ if de name is Egypt, den a I can understand,
Why ev’ry one is happy dere, fo’ all I beg an’ pray,
Is just to be where I can see ma Egypt ev’ry day;
Most ev’ry colored lady’s got a man dat she likes best,
But it ain’t so, with one I know, she’s diff’rent from de rest;
Her lovely name it’s jus’ de same, as Egypt, an’ I say,
I sometime thinks she’s like the Sphinx an’ jus’ as far away.

I’m a goin’ to tell her Egypt! My Cleopatra!
I ain’t no flatt’rer, but dis is true,
I’m a goin’ to tell her Egypt! if you don’t want me,
Why will you haunt me, de way you do?

At night I dream, an’ den I seem in dat far distant Land,
An oh! it’s fair, with Egypt there, we wander hand in hand,
An’ when de day has died away, beneath some Pyramid,
We stop to rest an’ on my breast, her lovely face is hid;
I feel jus’ like Mark Antony, with Egypt all ma own,
An’ she is kind an’ doesn’t mind our being there alone;
Ma’ heart it breaks, fo’ den I wakes an’ find dat all de while,
I’m on de Mississippi, tho’ I’m dreamin’ of de Nile.


If Egypt knew, what would she do? I often long to say,
Why do you be so sweet to me, in dreams dear, anyway?
Las’ night we kiss, den tell me dis, why don’t we kiss today?
But dat surprise in Egypt’s eyes might drive ma dream away;
An’ so I wait to know ma fate, befo’ I claim ma own,
Dat lovely land or desert sand, where I must walk alone;
But dis I know, wher’e’er I go, dat we can never part,
Fo’ like a flame, ma Egypt’s name is burning in ma heart.





2 responses

18 03 2011

Hmm. I sing this song all the time. I’m singing it right now.

18 03 2011
Dr. Sphinx

Ha ha! But I know your true favorite song is Mummy Mine.

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