The Swanee River
(Old Folks at Home)
Written by Stephen C. Foster
Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere’s wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere’s wha de old folks stay.
All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.
All de world am sad and dreary,
Eb-rywhere I roam;
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home!
All round de little farm I wandered
When I was young,
Den many happy days I squandered,
Many de songs I sung.
When I was playing wid my brudder
Happy was I;
Oh, take me to my kind old mudder!
Dere let me live and die.
One little hut among de bushes,
One dat I love
Still sadly to my memory rushes,
No matter where I rove.
When will I see de bees a-humming
All round de comb?
When will I hear de banjo strumming,
Down in my good old home?
Stephen C. Foster, one of America’s Best-loved musical storytellers, wrote "The Swanee River (Old Folks at Home)" in 1851. A memorial center at White Springs honors Foster, who authored about 200 songs during his prolific career.
The Suwannee River flows southerly from the Okeefenokee Swamp in Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, topographically slicing the Florida panhandle from the rest of the state.
After Foster wrote "The Swanee River" in 1851, he sold it to famed minstrelman E. P. Christy. Foster is reported to have chosen the "Swanee" because its two-syllable cadence fit nicely into the music he had composed. It could not have been due to a familiarity with the river’s Florida section, since Foster never visited the state.
Through House Concurrent Resolution No. 22 in 1935, S. P. Robineau of Miami successfully entered "The Swanee River" as the official state song, replacing "Florida, My Florida," which had been adopted as the State Song in 1913. By 1935 Foster’s rightful position as a writer and composer had been established.