Thursday, December 11, 2008

Selections From a Seditious Carol

"Later on we'll conspire
as we dream by the fire
to face unafraid
the plans that we've made
walking in a winter wonderland. . ."
It's a lighthearted Christmas song at the outset, but by reading too much into it we can turn it into an innuendo-laced, anarchic riff on ancient cultures. And isn't that what Christmas is all about?

I don't necessarily have an issue with these lyrics, but "conspire" seems an odd choice of words. I've long been under the impression that long-term relationships are built on understand and affection, and nothing quite as spooky as a conspiracy. And what exactly is that conspiracy, if the chilling final lines are anything to go by? Does society not approve of their relationship? ("And then we'll get married BWAHAHAHA!") Are they some sort of Bonnie and Clyde couple planning some grand heist? Very few Christmas songs end in a hail of gunfire.

I suspect it's a rhyme of convenience. After all, the only other appropriate rhyme ("perspire") is either too suggestive or just too darn sweaty for a sentimental love song. And the other rhymes online resources suggest are just too ridiculous: "catch fire", "transpire", or "inquire." And the higher-syllable entries are oddly appealing but wouldn't work: "telegraph wire", "radial ply tire", or, best of all, "ecclesiastical attire." Nope - better to go with the steamy sweatiness even if it leaves you with a Christmas song the government won't let radio stations play before 10:00 PM.

"In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married? We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job When you're in town."

Unless Parson Brown has been receiving transmissions from his snowman counterpart, this just looks like a nifty way for the two youngsters depicted in this poem to continue living in sin.

"When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland."

I guess it's fair to say that playing "the Eskimo way" involves playing in snow. I don't think they involved traditional Inuit games like the "Blanket Toss", "Bone Puzzle" or "Cribbage Board" in their pre-Christmas lovestricken conspiracy.

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