Making Baltimore weep

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prof d'anglais

Senior Member
This is perhaps an Americanism rather than an English expression (two countries, separated by the same language:)), but a French student has asked me (an English prof) to explain "They returned with tales to make Baltimore weep". Can anyone explain the context of making Baltimore weep?
 
  • prof d'anglais

    Senior Member
    It's piece of comprehension, the story of 'The Blues Man'. Apparently, Baltimore was considered something of a paradise by Afro-americans, during the early 1900s, until they discovered New York City. Beyond that the reference seems totally obscure to us.
     

    tsunami

    New Member
    English
    The meaning to such a term could be interpreted in many different ways. Need more information on context. Could it be that given the era of the piece you have mentioned that the people in Baltimore had it so much better that anywhere else at the time. So tales brought back of hardship, made them realise their life was pretty good? As with All literary pieces, they are open to the reader's own interpretation.
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    The usual expression in the UK is to say something is enough 'to make the angels weep'. It comes from Shakespeare's 'Measure For Measure', and is used to mean 'something so tragic even the happiest people in the world weep at hearing it'.

    This sounds like the same phrase, but using 'Baltimore' instead of heaven, because it is considered in this context a kind of earthly paradise.

    Louisa
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I only found one reference to "Baltimore weep" on Google:

    Today I watched Peter Costello on Insiders. His latest attack on Julia Gillard regarding that terrible word "socialism" would make the monks of old Baltimore weep. Here. Scroll down to the section headed "What's in a Word 'New Order' Style?"

    I admit that I'm none the wiser for the addition of monks.

    EDIT: I asked it on WikiAnswers. If I get an answer I'll post it.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    My first reaction is that the "make X weep" construction can be used for Baltimore, or Miami, or Djibouti, or Ur.

    I think that the phrase that N-T mentions, the "make the monks weep" has a more direct meaning: the attack on "socialism" discussed would also have counted as an attack on the communal and selfless lives of monks.
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    I think "Baltimore" (i.e. the African American people in the area Joe came from) is weeping from longing because NYC is the promised land.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Given the context described in post 3, isn't "weep" just short for "weep with envy"?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Since posting earlier, I've done some more googling, and discovered that the topic sentence comes from Toni Morrison's novel Jazz.

    It seems that one of the leading characters, Violet, had had plans to move to Baltimore (from Virginia), having heard years of her grandmother's Baltimore stories. She and her husband Joe moved instead to Harlem, influenced by the fact that "He knew people living in the City and some who'd been there and had come home with tales to make Baltimore weep".

    This tends to reinforce my earlier feeling that "tales to make Baltimore weep" means "tales to make Baltimore weep with envy" :)
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    This is perhaps an Americanism rather than an English expression (two countries, separated by the same language:)), but a French student has asked me (an English prof) to explain "They returned with tales to make Baltimore weep". Can anyone explain the context of making Baltimore weep?
    Since posting earlier, I've done some more googling, and discovered that the topic sentence comes from Toni Morrison's novel Jazz.

    It seems that one of the leading characters, Violet, had had plans to move to Baltimore (from Virginia), having heard years of her grandmother's Baltimore stories. She and her husband Joe moved instead to Harlem, influenced by the fact that "He knew people living in the City and some who'd been there and had come home with tales to make Baltimore weep".

    This tends to reinforce my earlier feeling that "tales to make Baltimore weep" means "tales to make Baltimore weep with envy" :)
    So does that mean that New York was so fantastic for them that they went back (to where?) and spoke of it in such glowing terms that Baltimore was not even in the same ballpark and therefore "wept (with envy)"?
     
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