"to sweat [something] out" -- 146-year antedating, I hope

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 25 02:30:49 UTC 2013

On Feb 24, 2013, at 9:00 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> I don't see much similarity either. Different meter, different rhyme
> scheme, different subject, different tone - the only connection seems to be
> "not in summer."
> JL

Well to be fair to John, I think the idea is that in each case the poet/singer itemizes each season, explains why he can't leave the singee or perish, as the case may be, in the respective season based on its particular features, and after doing this for all four seasons concludes that no, never could he leave her (or die) at all.  So that's a bit more of a resemblance than just the bit about the summer.  But still, no basis for Lerner to sue the obscure poet from 146 years earlier (assuming the calculations are correct; I didn't check).

> On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 7:28 PM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com> <
> JJJRLandau at netscape.com> wrote:
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>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>"
>>              <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: "to sweat [something] out" -- 146-year antedating, I hope
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On Sat, 23 Feb 2013 14:23:38 +0000 "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
>> wrote:
>> <quote>
>> This obscure poem has a striking resemblance to If Ever I Would Leave
>> You, from Camelot.  I wonder if Alan Jay Lerner was somehow aware of it.
>> Or was there some kind of literary tradition of writing poems or songs
>> in this style?
>> <snip>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> I Would Not Die at All
>> (Second stanza)
>> I would not die in summer,
>> When trees are filled with fruit
>> And every sportsman has a gun,
>> The little birds to shoot,
>> The girls then wear the bloomer dress,
>> And half distract the men,
>> It is the time to sweat it out,
>> I would not perish then.
>> <end quote>
>> I doubt there is a connection between the two.  The only similarity is
>> that both first stanzas specify not doing something in summer.  The quoted
>> poem goes on to give details much more relevant to the season tan does
>> Lerner's lyrics:
>> If ever I would leave you
>> It wouldn't be in summer;
>> Seeing you in summer, I never would go.
>> Your hair streaked with sunlight...
>> Your lips red as flame...
>> Your face with a luster
>> That puts gold to shame.
>> Stylistically, Lerner had the intention of writing lyrics that sounded
>> medieval, or compatible with medieval personalities.  The other poem is
>> much more comtemporary to the date it was written, referring to "the
>> bloomer dress"
>> Alan Jay Lerner _The Street Where I Live_ (New York: W. W. Norton and
>> Company, 1978, ISBN 0-393-07532-X, page 205) states that he was working on
>> the lyrics to this song when his then-wife walked out on him.
>>     - Jim Landau
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