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[Detail] Let me kiss him for his mother

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster was a prolific songwriter who dramatically influenced American popular music. Before dying from alcoholism at the age of thirty-seven, he composed over 200 songs, including "Oh! Susanna," "My Old Kentucky Home," and "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair." Browse the Contributor Index for Stephen Foster to find songs such as "Hard Times Come Again No More," "Bring My Brother Back to Me," and the minstrel song "Camptown Racers." Additional Stephen Foster songs are available in the American Memory collection, Music for the Nation.

Camptown ladies, sing dis song,
Du da, du da.
Camptown race track five miles long,
Du da, du da da.
Go down dar wid my hat caved in,
Du da, du da.
Come back home wid pocket full ob tin,
Du da, du da da.

From "Camptown Racers."

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door,
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say,
Oh! Hard times come again no more.
Tis the song and the sigh of the weary,
Hard times come again no more,

From "Hard Times Come Again No More."

  • What types of themes and feelings does Foster address in his work?
  • How does Foster use rhyme schemes, dialect, and images to convey a specific theme?
  • What role do the narrators play in Foster's work?
  • How does alliteration such as "frail forms fainting" contribute to the song, "Hard Times Come Again No More"?
  • What other types of stylistic decisions appear throughout Foster's work?
  • Why might Foster might have been such a popular and influential songwriter?