Pentamic Iambeter


William Copper


Chorus SATB, Piano


It is absolutely charming
and we are thoroughly enjoying working on it.
The performance [of Pentamic Iambeter] was very well received and on doing self-assessments with all my choirs, quite a few have said that your piece was their favorite.

The poem by John Donne lists an assortment of impossible tasks, beginning with "Goe and catch a falling starre", and ending with finde a [person] true and fair." Language has been made inclusive at the end, with the men and women trading mildly accusative "she's" and "he's". The title refers to the meter, 5 4, as well as to the alchemic nature of the poem, and the humorous treatment.

Other choral works that have been programmed with Pentamic Iambeter include Gaudete Omnes by Sweelinck, The Storm is Passing Over by Charles Albert Tindley, and Wanting Memories by Ysaye Barnwell


    Goe and catche a falling starre,            
        Get with child a mandrake root,
    Tell me where all past years are,
        Or who cleft the divels foot,
    Teach me to hear mermaids singing, 
    Or to keep off envy's stinging,
            And find
            What wind
    Serves to advance an honest minde. 

    If thou be'st born to strange sights,
        Things invisible to see,
    Ride ten thousand days and nights
        Till age snow white hairs on thee;
    Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
    All stange wonders that befell thee,
            And swear
    Lives a [person] true, and fair.

    If thou find'st one, let me know;
        Such a pilgrimage were sweet --
    Yet do not; I would not go,
        Though at next door we might meet.
    Though [she he] were true when you met [him her],
    And last till you write your letter,
            Yet [he she] 
            Will be
    False ere I come, to two or three. 

        John Donne

Editions Available

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