Two Renaissance Poems


William Copper

Chorus SATB, Piano

By the composer of Lovelife Dances and Sea Fever

Taken from the Lovelife Dances, with the 4-hand piano part reduced to 2 hands, these two songs make a powerful pair by themselves. Sidney's position as a poet, according to John Williams, falls in a Petrarchan interlude between the earlier Native poets and the later synthesis of John Donne and Shakespeare; in this song, the poem is brought back into the earthy earlier English Renaissance tradition by the power of music (and the freedom of a composer to snip out sections of poems for the musical treatment!)

John Donne's "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day" describes the year's midnight with wide-ranging images, combining the lust of spring's promise with the darkness of shared passion and tears. The song re-orders the verses for musical effect; the flood drowning the whole world is the high point of the entire cycle in pure emotional power. (From one reviewer: "Wow! The intensity of this movement is wonderful")

For another setting of John Donne, see Pentamic Iambeter, a humorous treatment of Donne's "Song" (Goe and catch a falling starre). For more renaissance poetry, also see Knights of Troubled Love, two choral songs on texts by Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Two Renaissance Poems
Who Is It That This Dark Night

 ( excerpts ) 

Who is it that this dark night
    Underneath my window plaineth? 
It is one who from thy sight
    Being, ah, exiled, 
Disdaineth every other light. 

Why alas, and are you he?
   Be not yet these fancies changed? 
Dear, when you find change in me,
   Though from me you be estranged
Let my change to ruin be.  

 --- ( snip ) ---
I will my bliss forbear. 
Come no more. 

        Sir Philip Sidney 

You Lovers

 ( excerpts )

You lovers, for whose sake, the lesser Sunne
  At this time to the Goat is runne
  To fetch new lust, and give it you,
    Enjoy your summer all. 

Study me then, you who shall lovers bee
At the next world, that is, at the next Spring:
  For I am every dead thing,
  In whom love wrought new Alchimie. 

  --- ( snip ) ---

               Oft a flood
Have we two wept, and so
Drowned the whole world, us two; 

        John Donne

Copyright 2002 William P. Copper

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