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  • Writer's pictureGeoffrey Dean

Mellow Cello on the Mississippi: An 1819 Poem

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Could this be the earliest use of the mellow cello rhyme? This poem appeared in the Nachez (Mississippi) Gazette on August 28, 1819:


When dame Aurora opes her eyes,

And from my sleep I wake and rise,

What joy to hear the notes so mellow

Of thee, my aged Violoncello!

When Pheobus, with his moon-tide sway,

Converts the new-mown grass to hay,

Changing its green to palish yellow,

I love to hear my Violoncello.

When Hesper first lights up his fires,

And Sol's last glimm'ring spark expires,

Few jo?s can equal, none excell O,

Those that thou giv'st, my Violoncello.

At that still hour, enwrapt in shade,

Midnight, the hour for serenade,

The lasses cry, "the charming fellow!

How sweet he plays the Violoncello!"

When to those bluffs sublime I stray,

That overlook the grand highway,

The notes of boatmen, "under the hill-O"*

Can't vie with thine, my Violoncello.

When in a steamboat or ship I

Glide down thy stream, great Mississippi,

If tempests rise and whirlwinds bellow,

Thou'rt my delight, my violoncello.

When megrims and blue devils vex me,

When troubles rise and cares perplex me,

Heart may conceive, but tongue can't how

Thy tones enchant, my violoncello.

Thou'st been my comforter so long,

So oft accompanied my song,

That the same stroke that rings thy knell O,

Will break my heart, my Violoncello.


*Meaning the river Mississippi, that runs by the "Under-the-Hill" [this note printed with the poem]

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