"These far away places with strange sounding names," wrote X...
January 21, 2007 10:04 PM   Subscribe

“These far away places with strange-sounding names…” Where is that phrase from?! I have reason to believe it was first written by a romantic poet (possibly Tennyson, Browning, or Arnold) but I can’t beat the answer out of Google. Thanks to Google, I know that the line is used in a Bing Crosby song. But that’s definitely not the source I’m looking for.
posted by chickletworks to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Far away places with strange-soundin' names
Far away over the sea
Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names
Are callin', callin' me

Goin' to China or maybe Siam
I want to see for myself
Those far away places I've been readin' about
In a book that I took from the shelf

I start gettin' restless whenever I hear
The whistle of a train
I pray for the day I can get underway
And look for those castles in Spain

They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am
But I know that I'm burnin' to see
Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names
Callin', callin' me

(I pray for the day when I'll find a way
Those far away places to see)

Those far away places with the strange-soundin' names
Callin', callin' me
posted by chudder at 10:22 PM on January 21, 2007

Words and Music by Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney, 1948
posted by chudder at 10:28 PM on January 21, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, but that's the Bing Crosby (/Perry Como/ Dinah Shore) version, right? I'm almost positive that before there was the pop song, there was a poem.
posted by chickletworks at 11:07 PM on January 21, 2007

Here’s a 1934 use of the phrase (full sentence ‘Postage stamps make possible visits to faraway places with strange-sounding names.’) Not in a poem, though.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 12:31 AM on January 22, 2007

I can't give you the name of a poet, but this page from the Elizabethtown College English department cites the quote as an "old song." One would like to believe that if it were originally coined by a famous poet then they would cite that instead....no guarantees though.
posted by junkbox at 6:12 AM on January 22, 2007

I had no idea this was such a common phrase (I wasn't familiar with the song), but I agree with junkbox that if it were from a poem (especially by a well-known 19th-century poet) it would be cited as such somewhere on the net, and it's not (I've done some intensive googling, including GoogleBooks). I'll certainly be interested to see what turns up. You might try posting the question at Wordorigins.org; they're a pretty knowledgeable crew.
posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on January 22, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, impressive detective work from Aidan Kehoe, junkbox, and languagehat! Thanks so much, guys.

It's looking increasingly likely that I just made up the connection to a poet, I guess. Weird.

Thanks again!
posted by chickletworks at 9:26 AM on January 22, 2007

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