Fair, Rich and Young -
Sir John Harington
tenor and piano
rich, and young: how rare is her perfection,
Were it not mingled with one foul infection!
I mean, so proud a heart, so curst a tongue,
As makes her seem nor fair, nor rich, nor young.
pages, circa 2' 20"
John Harington (1561-1612) was Queen Elizabeth's godson and one of her
sometimes favorites and then known as "saucy,' a courtier, author and a
so-called master of art, popularly known as the inventor of the flush
toilet. For some of his poetry and other writing, he was repeatedly in and
out of favor with the Queen, as well as with her successor, James I. Among
his work, he translated Orlando Furioso at her behest, into "English
heroical verse." Among political works was his allegory, A New Discourse
of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax (1596), followed by
a supposed "retraction." Among his popular epigrams was this published in
1618: "Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? For if it prosper,
none dare call it treason." And thankfully unto this day, there are many
willing to say "treason."
four-line verse is treated by repetition, such that the full text is twice
repeated. After the full text, phrases repeat as a nattering of sixteenth
notes accompany the vocal line as if this young lady's tongue chatters and
chatters so much as to lessen "fair, rich and young" into, as Harington
says, a curse.
The score 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
Fair, Rich and Young