Pompey, nickname for Portsmouth

hpst@earthlink.net hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Dec 11 15:29:42 UTC 2006

Pompey may have been a common slave name in the US.

This anti slavery song is by Henry Clay Work, ie a true Work Song.

Nicodemus the slave, was of African birth
And was bought for a bag full of gold;
He was reckoned to be of the salt of the earth,
But he died years ago very old.
'Twas his last sad request, so we laid him to rest
In the trunk of an old hollow tree;
"Wake me up" was his charge "at the first break of day,
Wake me up for the great Jubilee."
The "good time coming" is almost here,
It was long, long, long on the way.
Now run and tell Elijah to hurry up Pomp,
And to meet us at the gum tree down in the swamp,
To wake Nicodemus today.
2. He was known as a prophet, at least was as wise,
For he told of the battles to come;
And we trembled with dread when he rolled up his eyes,
And we heeded the shake of his thumb.
Though he clothed us with fear, yet the garments he wore
Were in patches at elbow and knee;
And he still wears the suit that he used to of yore
As he sleeps in the old hollow tree.
 3. Nicodemus was never the sport of the lash,
Though the bullet has oft crossed his path;
There were none of his masters so brave or so rash
As to face such a man in his wrath.
Yet his great heart of kindness was filled to the brim,
He obeyed who was born to command;
But he longed for the morning which then was so dim,
For the morning which now is at hand.
4. Twas a long weary night, we were almost in fear
That the future was more than he knew;
Twas a long weary night but the morning is near
And the words of our prophet are true.
There are signs in the sky that the darkness is gone,
There are tokens in endless array;
While the storm which had seemingly banished the dawn,
On hastens the event of the day.

Then there is the Davy Crockett song.


I'll tell you of a fight that I had with Davy Crockett,
He was half and half horse and half kill-rocket.
I met him a-going out a-cooning .
Said I, "Where' s your gun?"
Said he,"I have none."
Just then l sald.
"How you going to kill a coon?"
Said he, "Pompey Smash, come and go along with Davy
And l'll show you mighty quick how to grin a coon crazy."
We hadn't went very far until we saw a squirrel
Sitting on a pine log, eating sheep sorrel.
He backed both ears and he brayed like a sinner.
And Colonel Davy Crockett was a-grinning for his dinner.
"Take care of black calf
And don't you laugh,
l'll back both ears.
And l'll bite you in half."
I took off my coat and laid down my ammunition.
Said I. "Davy Crockett, I'll cool your ambition.
We fought about a half a day and then agreed to drop it.
For I was badly whipped and so was Davy Crockett.

Recorded by Sarah Ogan Gunning, Folk Legacy

I interviewed Sara many years ago but never heard her sing this song.

Both usages would appear to fit into into Alison and Steve's ideas on some
levels if only by reinforcement.

Page Stephens

> [Original Message]
> From: Alison Murie <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> Date: 12/8/2006 10:54:37 PM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Pompey, nickname for Portsmouth
> "Paws off, Pompey." A phrase in very common use, to repress impatient or
> impertinent curiosity.
> ----
> Stephen Goranson
> ~~~~~~~~
> Dogs, especially biggish, gallumphing ones, are frequesntly named Pompey.
> Dunno why.  Just seems to fit.
> AM
> ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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