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Peter Dickinson

Publisher: Novello & Co

A Dylan Thomas Song Cycle (1959)
Text Writer
Dylan Thomas
Publisher
Novello & Co Ltd
Category
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Year Composed
1959
Duration
15 Minutes
Orchestration
Availability


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Programme Note
Peter Dickinson A Dylan Thomas Song Cycle (1959)
Prelude (piano solo)
I have longed to move away
On a wedding anniversary
Was there a time?
In my craft or sullen art
On no work of words

Peter Dickinson's Dylan Thomas Song Cycle was composed in New York, when he was a graduate student at The Juilliard School of Music. The first performance was given that year by Richard Eikenberry with the composer; the first British performance by Robin Fairhurst and Anthony Lindsay in London in 1965. Something of Dylan Thomas' blustering but lyrical address comes through in these settings of some of his most famous poems.

I. I Have Longed To Move Away

I have longed to move away
From the hissing of the spent lie
And the old terrors' continual cry
Growing more terrible as the day
Goes over the hill into the deep sea;
I have longed to move away
From the repetition of salutes,
For there are ghosts in the air
And ghostly echoes on paper,
And the thunder of calls and notes.

I have longed to move away but am afraid;
Some life, yet unspent, might explode
Cut of the old lie burning on the ground,
And, crackling into the night air, leave me half-blind.
Neither by night's ancient fear,
The parting of hat from hair,
Pursed lips at the receiver,
Shall I fall to death's feather.
By these I would not care to die,
Half convention and half lie.

II. On A Wedding Anniversary

The sky is torn across
This ragged anniversary of two
Who moved for three years in tune
Down the long walks of their vows.


Now their love lies a loss
And Love and his patients roar on a chain;
From every true or crater
Carrying cloud, Death strikes their house.

Too late in the wrong rain
They come together whom their love parted:
The windows pour into their heart
And the doors burn into their brain.

III. Was There A Time

Was there a time when dancers with their fiddles
In children's circuses could stay their troubles?
There was a time they could cry over books,
But time has set its maggot on their track.
Under the arc of the sky they are unsafe.
What's never known is safest in this life.
Under the skysigns they who have no arms
Have cleanest hands, and, as the heartless ghost
Alone's unhurt, so the blind man sees best.

IV. In My Craft Or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie aged
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

V. On No Work Of Words

On no work of words now for three lean months in the bloody
Belly of the rich year and the big purse of my body
I bitterly take to task my poverty and craft:

To take to give is all, return what is hungrily given
Puffing the pounds of manna up through the dew to heaven,
The lovely gift of the gab bangs back on a blind shaft.

To lift to leave from the treasures of man is pleasing death
That will rake at last all currencies of the marked breath
And count the taken, forsaken mysteries in a bad dark.

To surrender now is to pay the expensive ogre twice.
Ancient woods of my blood, dash down to the nut of the seas
If I take to burn or return this world which is each man's work.

  • Soloist(s)
    Henry Herford, baritone/ Robin Bowman, piano
    Albany Troy:
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