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Lands of milk and honey Lands of milk and honey
by Jan Sand
2007-01-03 08:19:10
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The ancient Greeks and the Northern peoples envisioned, respectively, the Elysian Fields and Valhalla, as the final delightful resting places of their honorable dead. The Christians followed suit with a Heaven whose inhabitants occupied themselves in a somewhat different and less energetic manner. The Muslims were accorded seven heavens wherein several kinds of sexual pleasure were indicated as one engrossing activity there.

All of the above had death as the entrance requirement so substantiation was, at minimum, difficult and most sane people were not overeager to taste the promised pleasures.

But throughout the ages adventurous people invested the unknown territories of Earth with many of the characteristics of the ideal places envisioned in old traditions and ancient myths. They were places of all sorts of easy riches, precious stones, gold and valuable metals and easy edible delights hanging from every tree. Some were thought to be perfect societies lacking many of the miseries of the real world. One of the earliest of these stories was about the island kingdom of Atlantis described around 360 BC by Plato and there still seems to be some people who spend time and effort looking for the place.

After the discovery of the riches of the Americas by the Spanish stories circulated about a fabulous El Dorado, stories which were never substantiated. Ponce de Lion fruitlessly spent some effort looking for a legendary Fountain of Youth.

But the concept of a bountiful perfect society persistently threads through history in legends and story. In 1516 Thomas More wrote of a “Utopia” where a selfless society worked in perfect harmony and strangely, some of the aspects of this society were attempted during the harsh rule of communism in the Soviet Union. Obviously, whatever the attainments of that experiment might be, it was surely no utopia.

Modern legends arose in the last century. Shangri-La in the depths of the Himalayas was a perfect society where the inhabitants lived for hundreds of years. It appeared in a novel, “Lost Horizon”, written by James Hilton.
During WWII the attack of American B-25 bombers on Tokyo was said to originate in Shangri-La by American propagandists to hide the fact that they were launched by aircraft carriers.

And then there was the story of Big Rock Candy Mountain that arose during the hard times of the great depression.

On a summer day in the month of May a burly bum came hiking Down a shady lane through the sugar cane, he was looking for his liking.
As he roamed along he sang a song of the land of milk and honey Where a bum can stay for many a day, and he won't need any money

Oh the buzzin' of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain, At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains

There's a lake of gin we can both jump in, and the handouts grow on bushes In the new-mown hay we can sleep all day, and the bars all have free lunches Where the mail train stops and there ain't no cops, and the folks are tender-hearted Where you never change your socks and you never throw rocks, And your hair is never parted

Oh the buzzin' of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain, At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains

Oh, a farmer and his son, they were on the run, to the hay field they were bounding Said the bum to the son, "Why don't you come to the big rock candy mountains?"
So the very next day they hiked away, the mileposts they were counting But they never arrived at the lemonade tide, on the Big Rock Candy Mountains

Oh the buzzin' of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain, At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains

One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fires were burning, Down the track came a hobo hiking, and he said "Boys, I'm not turning."
"I'm heading for a land that's far away beside the crystal fountains;"
"So come with me, we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains."

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there's a land that's fair and bright, The handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night Where the boxcars all are empty and the sun shines every day On the birds and the bees and the cigarete trees, The lemonade springs where the bluebird sings In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, all the cops have wooden legs And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft-boiled eggs The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay Oh I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow Where the rain don't fall, the wind don't blow In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, you never change your socks And little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too And you can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin, And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in There ain't no short-handled shovels, no axes, saws or picks, I'm a-goin' to stay where you sleep all day Where they hung the jerk that invented work In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

I'll see you all this comin' fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains!

  
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