Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Haunted Clocks... We'll see...

The first thing to say is that there has always been something vaguely unsettling about grandfather clocks.  They're about the same height and girth as a human being, they have a face, and for centuries the clock was by far the most complex piece of machinery most people knew, the closest thing to artificial intelligence.  Long before radio and robots, it was the clock that seemed eerily human.  It's never taken very much to anthropomorphize grandfather clocks in odd or whimsical or sinister directions.
This cultural hangover continues into our own time.  Grandfather clocks have been standard props in scary movies as long as they've been making scary movies.  They're right up there with suits of armor when it comes to creepy things standing around in dark old houses. 
It's a small step from this general eeriness to the notion of haunted clocks, and sure enough, in popular culture haunted clocks are a widely-known phenomenon.  A good musical example is "My Grandfather's Clock," a lively little ditty written in 1876; it is a folk classic.  We used to sing it in school when I was a little kid.  It's been recorded by the Everly Brothers, Burl Ives, and Johnny Cash, among others.
 
My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS:
Ninety years without slumbering
(tick, tick, tick, tick),
His life seconds numbering,
(tick, tick, tick, tick),
It stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know
And to share both his grief and his joy.
For it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride;
But it stopped short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS
My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time, and had but one desire —
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place — not a frown upon its face,
And its hands never hung by its side.
But it stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS

It rang an alarm in the dead of the night —
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight —
That his hour of departure had come.
Still the clock kept the time, with a soft and muffled chime,
As we silently stood by his side;
But it stopp'd short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS



Grandfather clock on Captain Kangaroo was nice, but he still was kind of creepy to me.

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