Two English Satires


William Copper


Chorus SATB, Piano optional

Pentamic Iambeter and The Oubit, bound together in octavo


"Your Oubit was a big hit with everyone, and I think we did it justice. I know the chorus enjoyed singing it." Judith Gary, Music Director, The Virginia Consort

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. Acalanes High School, Bruce Lengacher, Director

By the composer of Lovelife Dances

Pentamic Iambeter 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.

Go and catch a falling star, 
    Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
    Or who cleft the devil's 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
The Oubit An oubit (oo'-bit) is a caterpillar, used here as a metaphor for a young poet. Take warning, then, young poets, from this poor oubit's shame ... for critics lie, like salmon fry, to make their meals of you. A merry setting of the 19th century poem by Charles Kingsley, an English poet. Oubit glossary, errata, and performance notes.

It was an hairy oubit, 
    sae proud he crept alang,
A feckless hairy oubit, 
    and merrily he sang:
"My Minnie bade me bide at home, 
    until I won my wings;
I shew her soon, my heart's aboon 
    the warks o' creeping things."

This feckless hairy oubit 
    cam' hirpling by the linn;
A swirl o' wind cam' doun the glen, 
    and blew that oubit in.
O when he took the water, 
    the saumon fry they rose
And tigged him a' to pieces sma' 
    by head and tail and toes.

Tak' warning then, young poets, 
    by this poor oubit's shame;
Though Pegasus may nicher loud, 
    keep Pegasus at hame.
O haud your hands from inkhorns, 
    though a' the muses woo;
For critics lie, like saumon fry, 
    to mak' their meals of you.

        Charles Kingsley

Editions Available (printed together or individually)

Copyright 2001 William P. Copper

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