Monday, June 26, 2006

Maryland, My Maryland

Sydney and I have moved from Alabama to Maryland, where she is a new faculty member in the English department of Frostburg State University.

This means that I am now under the jurisdiction of the Maryland state song, which begins, "The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland!"

"Maryland, My Maryland" is a Confederate anthem. A Marylander named James Ryder Randall, who was living in Louisiana at the time, wrote it in 1861. By "the despot" he meant President Lincoln, and by "the despot's heel" he meant the Union Army, which Lincoln had called out in force to prevent Maryland, then a slave state, from seceding and leaving Washington, D.C., surrounded by the Confederacy.

A later verse begins: "Dear Mother! burst the tyrant's chain, Maryland! Virginia should not call in vain, Maryland!"

The song concludes: "Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum! She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come! Maryland! My Maryland!"

Did I mention it's sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum"? I kid you not.

I bet this is the only state song that includes the phrase "the Northern scum."

I've lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line all my life (in South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama before this), and I still do, barely, but moving this close to the border gave me some initial qualms. Pit-cooked barbecue is unknown, and so far, the only reliable sweet tea I can find is at Ruby Tuesday.

But when I read the lyrics of "Maryland, My Maryland!" I feel right at home. Alas.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ditto Jeff

My hero Jeffrey Ford has a blog, so I think I'll have one, too.

Note that I typed "my hero Jeffrey Ford," not "my hero, Jeffrey Ford." As I'm always trying to explain to my students, leaving out the comma makes the appositive non-restrictive; while Jeffrey Ford is my hero, he is not my only hero. There are, indeed, others. I'll mention them here, from time to time.