FLASKEPOST: HIMMEL-HAVN/Heaven-Haven (Message in a bottle)
Heaven-Haven is a short setting of a poem by Gerard Manley-Hopkins, for voice and chamber ensemble.
Some 15-20 years ago, when I was just beginning to write music, I was singing in a choir, and we performed seven songs "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" by Benjamin Britten. It was a set of very beautiful settings of verses by the English priest and poet Gerard Manley-Hopkins. The verses - as well as the music - moved me deeply. And both the poetry of Manley-Hopkins and the music of Britten has been a great source of inspiration for me ever since. Particularly one of the poems kept resonating in my mind.
I HAVE desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.
What it is that impresses me so much about this particular text, I do not really know. I am not even sure, if I fully understand what it means. But I have a feeling, that Manley-Hopkins with this short poem - not so much in the meaning as in the mere sound of the words - captures something very fundamental and very profound in one simple and immensely beautiful formula: The fact that hope and fear go hand in hand... In any case, the poem stayed with me. Some years later, I did my own setting of the verse. The first version I did was for singing percussionist playing guitar. It was a short tune with a simplistic accompaniment. Although it did not in any way sound like Britten, the music probably carried some inspiration from his piece. This short piece has been rearranged for various instrumental combinations with or without the text, and the tune has found its way into some of my instrumental pieces.
"Flaskepost: Himmel-Havn" uses some of the same melodic material as in my first setting of the text, the material here being stretched and developed. the two first movements are without text. They evolve rhythmic and colouristic ideas and work like two short preludes to the longer third movement, where Heaven-Haven is sung. The piece is written for the Swedish ensemble Gageego.