take along your shadow

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pomar

Senior Member
Italian
Buzzard keep on flyin’ over, take along yo’ shadow.
It is a line from "Porgy and Bess".
I suppose that take along your shadow must be an idiom, but I wasn't able to find it in any dictionary.
I think it means "if the buzzard is flying, it is a bad omen, so take care of yourself". Am I right?

Second thought: all the sentence might be in the imperative mood, meaning: "Buzzard, keep on flying, go away, and your shadow go with you!"
 
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  • Azazel81

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    Buzzard keep on flyin’ over, take along yo’ shadow.
    It is a line from "Porgy and Bess". Honestly I've never heard it.
    I suppose that take along your shadow must be an idiom, but I wasn't able to find it in any dictionary. Could be... you know.. songwriters tend to think they're actually poets.
    I think it means "if the buzzard is flying, it is a bad omen, so take care of yourself". Am I right? Could be. I'm not sure though.

    Second thought: all the sentence might be in the imperative mood, meaning: "Buzzard, keep on flying, go away, and your shadow go with you!" Honestly I don't think so.. sounds to me like the second part only is imperative. The first one sounds mostly like a statement...
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Second thought: all the sentence might be in the imperative mood, meaning: "Buzzard, keep on flying, go away, and your shadow go with you!":tick:
    Yes, it means take your shadow with you! :thumbsup:

    It's not so much idiomatic as a "transcription" of how Black Americans spoke ( I think, but I might be wrong, that the songwriter was black; the lyrics weren't written by Gershwin, but by Du Bose Heywerd, which sounds like a Black American name to me, but wait for the music experts.;)).

    A buzzard eats corpses, so it is seen as an bad omen; Buzzard, fly over (away from) my house and take your shadow with you.
     

    pomar

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you, london calling.
    I am not a music expert but I know that DuBose and Heyward were a man and a woman, and they were black writers, who wrote the novel "Porgy". Anyway, the text was revised by the Gershwins brothers for "Porgy and Bess". The language is said to mimick the way the "Gullah" people spoke.

    I definately think that my second thought was right, since I kept searching in the lyrics and found : "Buzzard, keep on flyin’, Porgy’s young again."
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    While I see nothing wrong with what anyone has posted, I think the line is actually a reference to what you see when buzzards are near. Most people don't bother looking up at the sky, if someone is injured, ill, or dying.
    Buzzards circle in the sky, when they believe something is sick or dying, waiting for a meal. They are large birds, and they will wait long periods of time. Also, a promising meal will often draw ten or more birds to the area. So, if it is mid-day, and they are circling, you will see large shadows circling you, on the ground. It is a very creepy and lasting image.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    While I see nothing wrong with what anyone has posted, I think the line is actually a reference to what you see when buzzards are near. Most people don't bother looking up at the sky, if someone is injured, ill, or dying.
    Buzzards circle in the sky, when they believe something is sick or dying, waiting for a meal. They are large birds, and they will wait long periods of time. Also, a promising meal will often draw ten or more birds to the area. So, if it is mid-day, and they are circling, you will see large shadows circling you, on the ground. It is a very creepy and lasting image.
    Quite so! :)I gave a very succinct answer, as this was originally posted in the Italian-English forum (the Italian was edited out).

    Have you read the actual lyrics? Porgy is talking to the buzzard as well.
     
    The lyrics of Porgy and Bess are by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin.

    DuBose Heyward is not two people, but only one, and he was male. With that sort of name, he would, as I have heard it phrased, either have to be very white, or very black. In this case, he was very white: he was a descendant of Thomas Heyward, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, he made a genuine effort to represent authentic speech patterns of poor blacks in Charleston, which is where he lived and where Porgy and Bess is set.

    This lyric is addressed by Porgy to the buzzard, which is a bird of ill omen. As the buzzard is a bird of ill omen, you would not want a buzzard's shadow to fall you, as it would mean that the buzzard was overhead. Porgy believes his bad luck has changed to good luck, and so he is telling the buzzard of bad luck that has afflicted his life to depart. The lyric means "Buzzard, continue flying over my house without stopping, and take your buzzard shadow with you when you go."
     

    pomar

    Senior Member
    Italian
    You are right, GreenWhiteBlue, and I was completely wrong.
    DuBose Heyward was a man from Charleston and he was white.
    What got me wrong was that I took it for sure that a name like DuBose (with those two capital letters) had to be a family name, not a first name, and that I knew that a Dorothy Heyward is a co-author of the adaptation for Porgy and Bess. So, I thought that there was a Mr DuBose and a Ms Heyward. My fault!
     
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