26 May Joyce Songs
Program Note: Joyce Songs (2009) by James Rolfe
words by James Joyce; for soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, and piano; duration ca. 15 minutes. The songs may be performed individually or in any combination, in any suitable order. Joyce Songs were commissioned by The Aldeburgh Connection (Stephen Ralls, Artistic Director) with the assistance of The Ontario Arts Council.
A Flower Given to My Daughter
Frail the white rose and frail are
Her hands that gave
Whose soul is sere and paler
Than time’s wan wave.
Rosefrail and fair– yet frailest
A wonder wild
In gentle eyes thou veilest,
My blueveined child.
Strings in the earth and air
Make music sweet;
Strings by the river where
The willows meet.
There’s music along the river
For Love wanders there,
Pale flowers on his mantle,
Dark leaves on his hair.
All softly playing,
With head to the music bent,
And fingers straying
Upon an instrument.
Bid adieu, adieu, adieu,
Bid adieu to girlish days,
Happy Love is come to woo
Thee and woo thy girlish ways — –
The zone that doth become thee fair,
The snood upon thy yellow hair,
When thou hast heard his name upon
The bugles of the cherubim
Begin thou softly to unzone
Thy girlish bosom unto him
And softly to undo the snood
That is the sign of maidenhood.
O cool is the valley now
And there, love, will we go
For many a choir is singing now
Where Love did sometime go.
And hear you not the thrushes calling,
Calling us away?
O cool and pleasant is the valley
And there, love, will we stay.
In the dark pine-wood
I would we lay,
In deep cool shadow
At noon of day.
How sweet to lie there,
Sweet to kiss,
Where the great pine-forest
Thy kiss descending
With a soft tumult
Of thy hair.
O unto the pine-wood
At noon of day
Come with me now,
Sweet love, away.
Gentle lady, do not sing
Sad songs about the end of love;
Lay aside sadness and sing
How love that passes is enough.
Sing about the long deep sleep
Of lovers that are dead, and how
In the grave all love shall sleep:
Love is aweary now.
All day I hear the noise of waters
Sad as the sea-bird is when, going
He hears the winds cry to the water’s
The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.
I hear an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees:
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers.
They cry unto the night their battle-name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.
They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?