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"Gone Are The Days When My Heart Was Young And Gay"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One of the songs in which Stephen Collins Foster attempted to express some of the sadness felt by the American Negro, "Old Black Joe" is full of the sorrow of an old man who has outlived his friends and now waits in his loneliness for death. His only source of strength is his great faith in a better life beyond, and in his imagination he hears the spirits of his friends calling his name from the shores of Heaven.

Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,
Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
I hear their gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe."
Where are the hearts once so happy and so free,
The children so dear that I held upon my knee?
Gone to the shore where my soul has longed to go.
I hear their gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe."
I'm coming, I'm coming, for my head is bending low:
I hear those gentle voices calling "Old Black Joe."