Stephen Foster’s Last Gift

The American composer Stephen Foster wrote many beloved songs, and perhaps the most famous is Beautiful Dreamer. Foster wrote the song near the end of his life, after his wife left him and his health was failing. Beautiful Dreamer earned a fortune, but it had not yet been published when Foster died in January 1864. His pockets contained just 38¢, and a scrap of paper bearing the words “Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts”.

In Stephen Foster's handwriting
In Stephen Foster’s handwriting

Lots of people have covered the song: Al Jolson, Roy Orbison, and Marilyn Horne, the great soprano. But as I was writing this post, I found a YouTube video with the most beautiful version I’ve ever heard by a singer called Lemonflower. The video is posted beneath the lyrics. If you like her voice, you can find her album Welcome to My Diary the the iTunes store.

Asleep in the Woods artist: Jules Breton
Asleep in the Woods
artist: Jules Breton

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away!
Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life’s busy throng,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
Mermaids are chaunting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.
Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E’en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

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