Captain Stratton's Fancy

 

 

Captain Stratton's Fancy - (2010)    

John Masefield

for baritone and piano


 

Oh, some are fond of red wine and some are fond of white,
And some are all for dancing by the pale moonlight,
But rum alone's the tipple and the heart's delight
Of the old, bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh, some are fond of Spanish wine and some are fond of French,
And some'll swallow tay and stuff fit only for a wench,
But I'm for right Jamaica till I roll beneath the bench,
Says the old, bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh, some are for the lily and some are for the rose,
But I am for the sugar cane that in Jamaica grows,
For it's that that makes the bonny drink to warm my copper nose,
Says the old, bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh, some are fond of fiddles and a song well sung
And some are all for music for to lit upon the tongue,
But mouths were made for tankards and for sucking at the bung,
Says the old, bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh, some that's good and godly ones they hold that it's a sin
To troll the jolly bowl around and let the dollars spin,
But I'm for toleration and for drinking at an inn,
Says the old, bold mate of Henry Morgan.

[ 5 pages, circa 3' 15" ]


John Masefield

 

John Edward Masefield, OM, (1878-1967) was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967. Author of the classic children's novels, The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, and many memorable poems, including "The Everlasting Mercy" and "Sea-Fever." He also penned Gallipoli, from his experiences in World War I, and many more up until his final publication at the age of 88. Prolific as an author and in demand as a speaker, both Yale and Harvard Universities conferred honorary Doctorates of Letters on him, and an Honorary Doctorate of Literature was awarded by Oxford University in 1921. He served as Poet Laureate from 1930 to 1967, was awarded many more honors as well, and served as President of the Society of Authors. His ashes are interred in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, and to remember and promote his work, The John Masefield Society was formed in 1992.

 

 

The text [ 1 ] was referred to me by my wife, as we were discussing Emily Ezust's fine site, The Lied, Art Songs and Choral Texts Page. Over the summer we had toyed with a number of cocktail recipes, and subsequent to this also something of how authors and poets have thought of spirits. This "rum song" then is another in the large repertoire of drinking songs which can be found throughout the world and over centuries, from folk music to lieder and opera. There are a few other songs with texts about "the spirits" which have amused me over time, and this merely adds to the fun.

 

The opening gesture rises in whole tone series against another sinking whole tone series. There is little preparation therefore for the coming tonic of F major, employing the same gesture in another tonal region. The emphasis on the raised fourth in the vocal line suggests a bit of tippling as is mentioned in the text. The gestures then at measure 15 and beyond reverse the gesture's direction, this time the top line descending in half-steps rather than whole tones, and the bass line rising towards it in opposite motion.

 

 

The third stanza is set with a half-step modulation, as the mention of flowers is accompanied by a more delicate sense. And yet the raised fourth of the vocal line conflicts with the "normal" fourth of the accompaniment. The insistence of the vocal line's half steps against the accompaniment figure at measure 35 and beyond suggest the vocal line disregards the less turbulent harmonic background for its own bawdy character.

 

 

The fourth stanza's D major is arrived at by common tone modulation, as music itself is contrasted with drinking. A final stanza awaits with a return to the introduction and a final verse in G major.

 

 

The score for Captain Stratton's Fancy is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

Captain Stratton's Fancy

 

                    


NOTES

 

[ 1 ]    The complete text involves more stanzas, and should a singer wish to incorporate these in some manner, I say have a go at it. But first, try some rum to smooth the way.... The complete poem reads:

Oh some are fond of red wine, and some are fond of white,
And some are all for dancing by the pale moonlight;
But rum alone's the tipple, and the heart's delight
Of the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of Spanish wine, and some are fond of French,
And some'll swallow tay and stuff fit only for a wench;
But I'm for right Jamaica till I roll beneath the bench,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are for the lily, and some are for the rose,
But I am for the sugar-cane that in Jamaica grows;
For it's that that makes the bonny drink to warm my copper nose,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of fiddles, and a song well sung,
And some are all for music for to lilt upon the tongue;
But mouths were made for tankards, and for sucking at the bung,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of dancing, and some are fond of dice,
And some are all for red lips, and pretty lasses' eyes;
But a right Jamaica puncheon is a finer prize
To the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some that's good and godly ones they hold that it's a sin
To troll the jolly bowl around, and let the dollars spin;
But I'm for toleration and for drinking at an inn,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are sad and wretched folk that go in silken suits,
And there's a mort of wicked rogues that live in good reputes;
So I'm for drinking honestly, and dying in my boots,
Like an old bold mate of Henry Morgan.