As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish, he'd stay away."

The Psychoed, Hugh Mearns">
moblog uk


group profile | members | imagewall

« older newer »

We bloggers like a good quote, don't we?

This group is for your favourite quotations, and i'm not just talking about things you read in Bartlett's. It could be an inspirational excerpt from an ancient text; a memorable line from a movie; advice an old school teacher gave that stuck with you. It can even be something you overheard at the bus stop this morning.

Add a poignant photo to accompany your quote.

If you tag the posts, perhaps we can build up a searchable bank of our own favourite words, phrases, quotations...

You get the picture. Join the group and get quoting. You can quote me on that.

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Search this moblog

Recent visitors

As I was going

(viewed 2642 times)
Bookmark and Share
"As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish, he'd stay away

The Psychoed, Hugh Mearns

Posted by Caine


Twiglet says:

Ah, a lovely spooky one!

22nd Aug 2009, 08:03

nige says:

That's great. Never heard it before and can't find much on the net either. When you read it, what does it say to you? At first I thought he was seeing a ghost, but reading it a couple of times I think it speaks more to his own mental condition (of course I might not think that if it weren't for the title).

22nd Aug 2009, 09:49

Twiglet says:

I'm sure you're right about the mental state nige but I've known this one since childhood and it always says spooky to me!

Edit: Try looking up *Antigonish* by Hugh Mearns for more info.

22nd Aug 2009, 10:06

Caine says:

Thanks all!

Nige, this is quite famous, I'm surprised you haven't heard it before. The poem is called Antigonish, as Twiglet says, and it was about a ghost. It's often been used in various movies as such to signify mental problems of one sort or another.

Inspired by reports of a ghost of a man roaming the stairs of a haunted house in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, the poem was originally part of a play called The Psyco-ed which Mearns had written for an English class at Harvard University about 1899. In 1910, Mearns put on the play with the Plays and Players, an amateur theatrical group and, on 27 March 1922, newspaper columnist FPA printed the poem in "The Conning Tower," his column in the New York World.

Mearns' "Antigonish" has been used numerous times in popular culture, often with slight variations in the lines. Versions are frequently featured in modern entertainment, such as the opening of the 2003 movie Identity, Velvet Goldmine in 1998, Being Cyrus in 2006, in the Stephen King novel "Dreamcatcher", in the Charles Stross novel "Halting State", in "The Silent Tower" novel by Barbara Hambly in 1986, in the British adventure television serial 'Sapphire and Steel', the comic book Doom Patrol, the Sector General novel Major Operation, the Star Trek novel Q-Squared, the wonderful "Ambler Warning" by Robert Ludlum in 2005, and The Haunting in Connecticut in 2009.

A version appeared in March 2008 that played on the contrast between UK Prime Ministers Tony Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-). Allegedly it was composed by a minister in the Labour government.

In Downing Street upon the stair
I met a man who wasn't Blair.
He wasn't Blair again today.
Oh how I wish he'd go away.

In 1939, "Antigonish" was adapted as a popular song titled "The Little Man Who Wasn't There" by Harold Adamson with music by Bernie Hanighen, both of whom received the songwriting credits.[3] A 12 July 1939 recording of the song by the Glenn Miller Orchestra with vocals by Tex Beneke became an 11-week hit on Your Hit Parade reaching #7. Other versions were recorded by Larry Clinton & His Orchestra with vocals by Ford Leary, Bob Crosby & His Orchestra with vocals by Teddy Grace, Jack Teagarden & His Orch Orchestra with vocals by Teagarden, and Mildred Bailey.

In 2005, the U.S. American aggrotech band Psyclon Nine featured a sample of the poem in the song "The Unfortunate" from their INRI album.

In 2007, the Swedish black/doom metal band Shining featured a sample of the poem in the opening of their album, V - Halmstad.

The poem is also sampled in the EBM song Recognition by The Parallel Project.

Similar lyrics can be heard in the David Bowie song The Man Who Sold the World:

We passed upon the stair
We spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there
He said I was his friend...

And again referenced in OTEP's Communion in their 2007 album "The_Ascension"

And finally, here's the whole poem:

As I was going up the stair
I saw a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

Antigonish (1899)

22nd Aug 2009, 18:28

Add a comment

(P) what's this?

Track updates to this post with rssthis rss feed