A Mystery Tid Bit Answer

Robert Perret (JHWS “Sampson”) writes in response to our Mystery Tid Bit Post:

I can only find the USH citation online, and a brief wiki mention of Calabash. It appears to be neither the first nor the last Sherlockian writing from Asimov and I don’t have anything else to go on, so submitted as is for partial credit, I guess?​

C13593. Asimov, Isaac. “Those Endearing Old Charms,” Calabash, No. 1 (March 1982), 13.
“Let me tell you of all those endearing old charms / That we’ve loved and enjoyed so for years, / Will stay constant despite Moriarty’s alarms / For while Holmes is alive we’ve no fears…”

Chips answers: Asimov’s song is based on “Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms“, a popular song written in 1808 by Irish poet Thomas Moore using a traditional Irish air.

In the comments to that post, Roger Johnson (JHWS “Count”) correctly identified the piece, writing:

Asimov, a very accomplished versifier, here writes a variant on Thomas Moore’s 1808 poem:

I.
BELIEVE me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts, fading away!
Thou wouldst still be ador’d as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
And, around the dear ruin, each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still!

II.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofan’d by a tear,
That the fervour and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!
Oh! the heart, that has truly lov’d, never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sun-flower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turn’d when he rose!

Asimov followed the example of 1946 James Montgomery’s “Irregular Song”, written in the mid-1940s:

I
Believe me, if all those endearing old yarns
Which we cherish so fondly today
Were to vanish ‘neath Boscombe’s or Hurlstone’s dark tarns,
Like fairy gifts fading away,
There would still be those papers well guarded by Cox,
Watson-data as yet unrevealed,
And the records contained in that battered old box
New Conanical treasure would yield.

II
Oh dear Sherlock, to share thy adventures we long,
As you crush London’s crime under heel,
And we sing in thy praise an Irregular Song,
Though it ne’er can express all we feel.
Let grim warfare and pestilence rage as they can,
You will still give long hours of joy
To the boy who, adoring, is now half a man –
Or the man who is yet half a boy.

Moore’s poem became famous when set to a traditional Irish tune, and Montgomery applied his fine tenor voice to singing his own words to that same tune. I’m not aware that Isaac Asimov regaled the BSI with a musical rendition of “Those Endearing Old Charms” – but I wouldn’t put it past him.

Richard Olken (JHWS “Palmer”) added:

The tune is also that of Harvard’s anthem, Fair Harvard

I
Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o’er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors’ worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow’r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro’ change and thro’ storm.

II
Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by,
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.
Samuel Gilman, Class of 1811

Asimov did sing to the tune of O Danny Boy, as noted in the March, 1984 issue of the Baker Street Journal (Vol 34, #1, Page 7)

O, SHERLOCK HOLMES
by Isaac Asimov
(Sung to the tune of “Danny Boy)

O, Sherlock Holmes, the Baker Street Irregulars
Are gathered here to honour you today,
For in their hearts, you glitter like a thousand stars
And like the stars, you’ll never pass away.
This year that’s new, must tick away its months and die,
For Father Time moves on remorselessly,
But even he can’t tarnish, as he passes by,
O, Sherlock Holmes, O, Holmes, your immortality.

O, Sherlock Holmes, the world is filled with evil still
And Moriarty rages everywhere.
The terror waits to strike and by the billions kill.
The mushroom cloud is more than we can bear.
But still there’s hope in what you’ve come to symbolise,
In that great principle you’ve made us see.
We may yet live if only we can improvise,
O, Sherlock Holmes, O, Holmes, your rationality.


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