Girl I Left Behind Me
Museum purchase made possible in part by Mrs. Exhibition Label.
The Girl I Left Behind
A girl stands on a promontory, her hair streaming in the wind. The path before her trails off, so she must either retrace her steps or try to find her way forward.
Her wedding ring speaks to a commitment to her union and a husband who has gone to war. The split-rail fence below and the fog surrounding her speak to a world fraught with division and ambivalence.
Lyrics: The Girl I Left Behind Me – Thomas McCarthy
The title comes from a Regimental song. The Civil War and American Art , Gallery Label. A young girl stands on a promontory, her hair streaming in the wind. The path before her ends, so she must either retrace her steps or try to find a different way forward.
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In doing so, the artist opens the possibility that this young girl is doing more than waiting for the return of her husband. Her wedding ring, glinting in the light, speaks of commitment to her union, but is Johnson referring to her personal life or to the nation?
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- Before you leave...!
The split-rail fence below her divides the landscape, and the fog surrounding her suggests a world fraught with ambivalence. She appears to wait for a sign of what will come next. Publication Label. These words are from an unnamed album I checked out of a library long years ago.
The tune was also used for lyrics to a drinking song, Waxie's Dargle. There are several more versions at The Mudcat Cafe. I'm lonesome since I crossed the hill, And o'er the moorland sedgy Such heavy thoughts my heart do fill, Since parting with my Betsey I seek for one as fair and gay, But find none to remind me How sweet the hours I passed away, With the girl I left behind me.
O ne'er shall I foget the night, the stars were bright above me And gently lent their silv'ry light when first she vowed to love me But now I'm bound to Brighton camp kind heaven then pray guide me And send me safely back again, to the girl I left behind me Her golden hair in ringlets fair, her eyes like diamonds shining Her slender waist, her heavenly face, that leaves my heart still pining Ye gods above oh hear my prayer to my beauteous fair to find me And send me safely back again, to the girl I left behind me The bee shall honey taste no more, the dove become a ranger The falling waters cease to roar, ere I shall seek to change her The vows we made to heav'n above shall ever cheer and bind me In constancy to her I love, the girl I left behind me.