Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Mohogany Tree.

       William Makepeace Thackeray , born on 18 July 1811 and died 24 December 1863, was an English novelist of the 19th century. He is famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.
       Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta, India, where his father, Richmond Thackeray (1 September 1781 – 13 September 1815), was secretary to the Board of Revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (1792–1864), was the second daughter of Harriet Becher and John Harman Becher, who was also a secretary (writer) for the East India Company. Read more about his history here...
The Mohogany Tree by William Makepeace Thackeray.
       "Some years since" said Thackeray in a public speech, "when I was younger, and used to frequent jolly assemblies, I wrote a Bacchanalian song to be chanted after dinner;" and a contemporary record has preserved a note of "the radiant gratification of his face whilst Horace Mayhew sang The Mahogany Tree, perhaps the finest and most soul-stirring of Thackeray's social songs."_
       In seeking a Souvenir of this Christmas season the ballad of "The Mahogany Tree" lends itself most felicitously to the present purpose which is to:

  "--wish you health, and love and mirth,
  As fits the solemn Christmas-tide."

       Putting aside for an hour the affairs of a work-a-day world, let us take our places around the convivial board, on the time-stained surface of which we may find in fancy the initials of so many boon companions of other days cut deep.
       It is pleasant to sport "round the stem of the jolly old tree" in congenial company, and to renew our youth at the bidding of this gracious Toastmaster, the centennial of whose birth we shall celebrate
presently; the anniversary of whose death was yester-e'en.
       But while remembering that we shall be none the worse tomorrow for having been happy today, we are not permitted to forget entirely the Blue-devil Sprite that awaits the dawn. The play-spell is over; the lights are out in Vanity Fair; and here in Mr. Dulac's drawing is the leader of our Christmas Chorus as he shuts up the box and the puppets--"for our play is played out."

The Mohogany Tree

Christmas is here;
Winds whistle shrill,
Icy and chill,
Little care we;
Little we fear
Weather without,
Sheltered about
The Mahogany Tree.

Once on the boughs
Birds of rare plume
Sang, in its bloom;
Night birds are we;
Here we carouse,
Singing, like them,
Perched round the stem
Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,
Boys, as we sit--
Laughter and wit
Flashing so free. 
Life is but short--
When we are gone,
Let them sing on,
Round the old tree.

Evening we know,
Happy as this;
Faces we miss,
Pleasant to see. 
Kind hearts and true,
Gentle and just,
Peace to your dust!
We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,
Luke at the gate;
Let the dog wait;
Happy we'll be!
Drink, every one;
Pile up the coals;
Fill the red bowls,
Round the old tree!

Drain we the cup,--
Friend, art afraid?
Spirits are laid
In the Red Sea,
Mantle it up;
Empty it yet;
Let us forget,
Round the old tree!

Sorrows begone!
Life and its ills,
Duns and their bills,
Bid we to flee. 
Come with the dawn,
Blue-devil sprite;
Leave us to-night,
Round the old tree!

Dramatic Reading of "The Mohogany Tree"

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