168. September 1913 (W.B. Yeats)


William Butler Yeats

I have to RUN out the door, but I will paraphrase the song today:

I have been reading as much writing as possible so I might improve my own brain.  This is a poem by W.B. Yeats. I find his work so lyrical.  It’s really beautiful.

This is a study.  The bowed (arco) cello parts are improvised.  The vocals and pizz cello part were recorded simultaneously.  This is the second take I did of this.  I did a dry improvised run on this poem and took ideas I got from that to the second take.  I had my own agenda as far as  melody and other accompanying parts go.  I tried to stray away from tempting habits.  (There are two or so lines of this poem that just list names which I didn’t take the time to prepare, so that part is actually kind of humorous to me: just singing a list of names and trying to get them all in!)

September 1913

What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind,
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry, ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

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