“Let’s Live in Clover” – Philadelphia (1905)

J. Murray Jordan was a prolific photographer and publisher in Philadelphia.

Murray’s work included a wide range of subjects – from the comic and frivolous to art photography, travel memoirs, and ethnographic anthologies of undeveloped areas of the globe.

This postcard photograph was copyrighted by the artist in 1905.

A grandly-mustachioed man is frolicking with two young woman – the trio appears carefree and happy.

A primitive verse encourages this insouciance:

“While we live, let’s live in clover

For when we’re dead, we’re dead all over.”

The postcard was never mailed, so we cannot know who collected this invitation to “live in clover”.

The idiomatic expression dates from the early 18th century and is derived from the pleasant contentment of cattle lolling in springtime fields of clover blossoms.

Variations include “being in clover”, “rolling in clover”, and (less common) “pigs in clover”.

With the phrase there is often an accompanying suggestion of bodily comfort, “animal spirits”, and reckless abandonment – in addition to contentment and ease.

From the earliest oral and written works of human history, one can trace the persistence of similar themes – carpe diem, “eat, drink, and be merry”, “gather ye rosebuds while ye may”.

(Many may remember Bing Crosby crooning the theme song from the 1948 “Easter Parade” – “I’ll be all in clover, and when they look you over, I’ll be the proudest fellow, in the Easter Parade”.)

In 1905, silk stockings, a bit of leg, the frilly petticoat would have been an exciting inducement to the life of pleasure.


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