Aug 072012
 

Wandering Songs: Four Irish Poems by Padraic Colum

Music by Eric M. Pazdziora
Texts by Padraic Colum (edited by EMP)

1. The Wonder of All Wandering
2. Morag’s Song (Red Rowan Berry)
3. When Sleep Would Settle on Me
4. The Edge of Day

Katherine Roy, violin
Steven Danan, violoncello
Heather Cummins, soprano
Amy Lemon, piano

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Wandering Songs is a song cycle in four movements, premiered at my senior composition recital in 2005 (the source of the video above). It combines my interest in vocal music with my love of Irish folklore and fairy tales. The texts for Wandering Songs are taken from The King of Ireland’s Son, an overlooked 1916 novel by the Irish poet and dramatist Padraic Colum (1881-1972). Colum was a leading figure in the Irish Literary Revival, moving in literary circles with W. B. Yeats and James Joyce, and collected many Irish folk tales and songs. In his book, Colum weaves narrative threads from several Irish fairytales into a lyrical whole, occasionally interjecting original poems in the style of Gaelic folksongs.

Here are the texts for reference:

1. The Wonder of All Wandering

I put the fastenings on my boat
For a year and for a day,
And I went where the rowans grow,
And where the moorhens lay;

A swallow sang upon his porch
“Glu-ee, glu-ee, glu-ee,”
“The wonder of all wandering,
The wonder of the sea;”
A swallow soon to leave ground sang
“Glu-ee, glu-ee, glu-ee.”

2. Morag’s Song (Red Rowan Berry)

A berry, a berry, a red rowan berry,
A red rowan berry brought me beauty and love.

But drops of my heart’s blood, drops of my heart’s blood,
Seven drops of my heart’s blood I have given away.

A kiss for my love, a kiss for my love,
May his kiss go to none till he meet me again.

If to one go his kiss, if to one go his kiss,
He may meet, he may meet, and not know me again.

3. When Sleep Would Settle On Me

When sleep would settle on me
Like the wild bird down on the nest,
The wind comes out of the West:
It tears at the door, maybe,
And frightens away my rest—
When sleep would come upon me
Like the wild bird down on the nest.

The cock is aloft with his crest:
The barn-owl comes from her quest
She fixes an eye upon me
And frightens away my rest
When sleep would settle on me
Like the wild bird down on its nest.

4. The Edge of Day

The blackbird shakes his metal notes
Against the edge of day,
And I am left upon my road
With one star on my way.

The night has told it to the hills,
And told the partridge in the nest,
And left it on the long white roads,
She will give light instead of rest.

Behold the sky is covered,
As with a mighty shroud:
A forlorn light is lying
Between the earth and cloud.

In the silence of the morning
Myself, myself went by,
Where lonely trees sway branches
Against spaces of the sky.

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