'To live hard, to die hard, and to go to Hell afterwards would be hard indeed.'

Fiddler's Green is a place for sailors and cavalrymen to go when they die. It is not Heaven, for it is a sinful place, one worthy of raucous seamen and soldiers. Instead, Fiddler's Green is a resting place halfway between Life and Hell. It appears to be a green meadow surrounded by trees with a pub or canteen in the middle. Everything a rough man can wish for is there: Beer, rum, tobacco and women. Judging from the name, there should also be music.

Only sailors who died ashore went to Fiddler's Green, as those who perished at sea went to the Locker or directly to sleep with the mermaids. It is said that some of the visitors at Fiddler's Green will try to depart to resume their way to hell. They never succeed, because they always have to come back to refill their can of liquor.

The tradition was popular in the maritime world from the 17th century. The legend became widespread in the US Cavalry sometime in the 19th century. Fiddler's Green has become the name of restaurants and pubs all over the world, as well as streets, farms and even golf courses. It has been dreamed of, spoken of and sung of from people who felt they deserved something after they died; perhaps not Heaven, but not Hell either.

Fiddler's Green
Written 1968 by John Connelly

As I walked by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the salt water and take the sea air
I heard an old fisherman singing a song
Won't you take me home boys, my time isn't long

Wrap me up in me oilskin and jumper
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell me shipmates I'm taking a trip, mates
And I'll see you someday in Fiddler's Green

Now Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell
Where fishermen go if they don't go to hell
Where the skies are not cloudy and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far far away

When you get to the docks and the long trip is through
There's pubs and there's clubs and there's lassies there too
Where the girls are all pretty and the beer it is free
And there's bottles of rum growing from each tree

Now I don't want a harp nor a halo not me
Just give me a ship and a good rolling sea
I'll play me old squeezebox as we sail along
With the wind in the riggins to sing me a song

Fiddler's Green
Published in a 1923 US Cavalry Manual

Half way down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green.
Are the souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old time canteen.
And this eternal resting place,
Is known as Fiddlers' Green.

Marching past straight through to Hell,
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by Engineers,
Artillery and Marines.
For none but shades of the Cavalrymen,
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail,
To seek a warmer scene.
No Trooper ever gets to Hell,
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so goes back to drink again,
With friends again at Fiddlers' Green.

And so when man and horse go down,
Beneath a saber keen.
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee,
You stop a bullet clean.
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head,
And go to Fiddlers' Green.

Fiddler's Green is a character in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. Sandman is a fantastical, very intelligent and erudite story, or rather, series of stories, that draws on mythology and folklore and symbols from a diverse range of cultures and sub-cultures, and therefore the Fiddler's Green depicted in the series is both an intelligent, self-aware being and a place - an anthropomorphic personification who is the embodiment of the peaceful sailors' paradise and all it represents in the human psyche.

Fiddler's Green exists in the Dreaming, a realm governed by Morpheus, the lord of dreams and stories - in fact, leaving aside the castle of Morpheus himself, it is the heart of the Dreaming, the tranquil center around which all the chaos and change inherent in dreams revolves. If one can think of the Dreaming as a graphic representation of the collective unconscious, then it would be the archetype of earthly paradise. Morpheus himself likes to take walks through Fiddler's Green, especially if he's courting at the time.

In book two of Sandman, The Doll's House, Morpheus discovers that Fiddler's Green has left the Dreaming and is nowhere to be found, and we quickly find out that he is walking the waking world in search of experience and change, rediscovering the joy of human interaction and unpredictability. He has taken the form of a huge, fat man who apparently looks exactly like G. K. Chesterton, and calls himself Gilbert. Aside from being weird and saying "Hoom!" a lot, just like the ents in The Lord of the Rings, he seems to have no immediate relevance to the plot of The Doll's House until he saves Rose Walker's life twice: once when she's being attacked by thugs in a dark alleyway, and once by writing Morpheus' name on a piece of paper for her. Later, when Rose is being attacked by a serial killer calling himself Fun Land, she grabs the paper and whispers the name, and he appears to save her.

Fiddler's Green returns to the Dreaming of his own accord, and Morpheus doesn't have the heart to punish him for leaving, perhaps because he had good intentions and did no harm. He tries to save Rose Walker's life one more time by offering his life for hers to Morpheus, but the Dream Lord refuses to accept the bargain. Does Morpheus end up killing Rose? Better buy the book and read it. Sorry.

He makes a cameo appearance in Book six, Fables and Reflections, in a story called Soft Places, when he meets Marco Polo in a desert at the edges of the Dreaming. Marco has stumbled into this place by accident - it's a shifting zone, where dreams and reality are blurred. Time has no real meaning there, and people who enter the shifting zones cannot usually return to the waking world. Fiddler's Green sits with Marco and his companion Rustichello at a campfire for a while and tells them stories they don't fully understand. At some point a band of lost warriors ride up to them - they've been stuck in the shifting zones for a long time, and are looking for a way out, but he can't help them:

Warrior: Sir? If we ever returned to the Hard Lands, there are some amongst us who believe that we would die of old age, crumblind to dust like the men in the tales. Others claim that we would return to the world on the day we left it, and live out the span of our lives -- And all the time we spent in this place would fade and vanish, like a dawn dream on waking that colors the day but cannot be touched or remembered. Which would it be, sir? Which would it be?
Fiddler's Green: I wish I knew.
Warrior: Aye. So do we, lord.

Fiddler's Green is killed in Book nine, The Kindly Ones, by the Furies, who are systematically destroying Morpheus' realm. He dies in his humanoid form, with dignity and slight disappointment, cleaning his glasses distractedly and mourning the fact that his death had to be so meaningless and violent. Being an embodied dream, he is not fully dead, just as he was never fully alive, and in Book ten, The Wake, the new Dream Lord, in the course of his repairs to the damage done to the Dreaming by the Furies, attempts to resurrect him. However, Fiddler's Green persuades Dream not to do this, saying:

If you bring me back to life, my death will have no meaning. I had a fine existence. I was a good place. I spent a little time in the waking world. I even fell in love, once, a little. I lived a good life and it ended. Would you take that away from me?
Dream ponders a moment, and then lets him go.

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