The Mountain Whipporwill "Hell's Broke Loose In Georgia"
by Stephen Vincent Benét

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"Hell's Broke Loose In Georgia"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This bouncy song with its hand-clapping, toe-patting rhythms is very much in tune with the fiddling which the story describes. The subtitle of the poem is "or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddler's Prize (A Georgia Romance)." We first get a picture of Jim's background. He was born in the lonesome mountains and never knew his parents. "Never had a brother ner a whole pair of pants,/ But when I start to fiddle," Jim says of himself, "why, yuh got to start to dance!" He enters the Georgia Fiddlers Show against fiddling champions such as Old Dan Wheeling, "king-pin fiddler for nearly twenty years"; and "little Jimmy Weezer that can make a fiddle cry." The incredible talents of these fiddlers are illustrated through several exaggerated metaphors. Old Don Wheeling fiddled "the wind by the lonesome moon"; when he got hot "he fiddled the heart right out of yore mouth." When Hill-Billy Jim begins to fiddle only the strongest imagination can describe it. He fiddles the "mountain-corn," "the breshwood-laurel," and "the whipporwill." When he gets hot, his fiddle begins to speak for Georgia as Georgia has never been spoken for:

Oh, Georgia booze is mighty fine booze,
The best yuh ever poured yuh,
But it eats the soles right offen yore shoes,
For Hell's broke loose in Georgia.