4.17.2010

Michael North1 tells us that That Shakespearian Rag2 was first published by Joseph W. Stern & Company in 1912 and that the words were by Gene Buck and Herman Ruby, and the music by David Stamper. The lyrics are:

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen,
I come not here to praise,"
But lend an ear and you will hear
a rag, yes, a rag that is grand, and
Bill Shakespeare never knew
Of ragtime in his days
But the high browed rhymes,
Of his syncopated lines,
You'll admit, surely fit,
any song that's now a hit,
So this rag I submit.

Chorus:

That Shakesperian rag--
Most intelligent, very elegant,
That old classical drag
Has the proper stuff
The line, "Lay on MacDuff"3
Desdemona was the pampered pet
Romeo loves his Juliet
And they were some lovers
You can bet, and yet
I know if they were here today
They'd Grizzly Bear4 in a different way
And you'd hear old Hamlet say
"To be or not to be"
That Shakesperian rag...

"My Kingdom for a horse,
Was what they used to say;"
It's different now, you will allow,
A tune, play a tune, start to croon, soon,
"As you like it" Brutus,
We'll play a rag today.
Then old Shylock danced,
And the Moor, Othello pranced.
Feeling gay, he would say,
as he started in to sway,
"Bring the rag, right away."
[Chorus]

Exploring The Waste Land notes on the above:

[1] Eliot, T.S., The Waste Land: authoritative text, contexts, criticism, Michael North, ed., New York, London, W.W. Norton & Company, A Norton Critical Edition (2001), pp. 51-4

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