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A Sea Symphony

Author: joe

Saturday, 20 January, 2007 - 22:49

A Sea Symphony. Human voice a texture, instrument a foil.


O my brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!

Strange that Vaughan Williams turns the human voice in to a (glorious) bank of sound, when his text so celebrates the imperious urge of an individual soul. What miracles of Whitman's does VW leave out... Oh captain, my captain!
O to struggle against great odds, to meet enemies undaunted!
To be entirely alone with them, to find how much one can stand!
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, face to face!
To mount the scaffold, to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect nonchalance!
To be indeed a God!

And yet, what troubles this soul that it must escape? And in what company?
O to sail to sea in a ship!
To leave this steady unendurable land,
To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the houses,
To leave you O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship,
To sail and sail and sail!

And lastly, are the soprano and baritone, singing together, singing symbiotically, but not singing to each other, a spirit yearning for its soul, or a manifestation of companionship? What is this ocean of searching?

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855

Categories: ralph-vaughan-williams, sea-symphony, sea, soul, walt-whitman, leaves-of-grass, christchurch-priory, choral,
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