Ironic Poem about Prostitution - (2009)
for baritone and piano
When I was young and had no sense
In far-off Mandalay
I lost my heart
to a Burmese girl
As lovely as the day.
Her skin was gold, her
hair was jet,
Her teeth were ivory;
I said, “for twenty silver pieces,
Maiden, sleep with me”.
She looked at me, so pure, so sad,
loveliest thing alive,
And in her lisping, virgin voice,
Stood out for
[ 3 pages, circa 1' 30" ]
George Orwell (1903-1950) was born as Eric Blair, Orwell being a pseudonym
he adopted later in life based on the patron saint of England as well as the
king at that time, George, and the river Orwell in Suffolk, a locale he
favored. He is renown for his seminal works, Animal Farm and 1984,
as well as a larger body of work, and gave the English language such
now-often used jargon as "Big Brother," "doublethink," "thought police" and
"newspeak." While the commentary still interests academics who argue
political jargon, the simple fact is that Orwell saw "greater" government as
a greater evil.
This juvenile poem was published under Orwell's birth name, though I ascribe
it herein to his chosen nom de plume. Like E. E. Cummings'
examination of prostitution, as in "wanta" (also known as "IX" in
Experiments With Typography, Spacing and Sound, 1916-17), Orwell finds
"negotiation" ironic as he juxtaposes it against words of love and beauty.
The accompaniment is wholly in pentatonic, as is the vocal line to reflect
the Asian venue for this irony in three stanzas. The pianist may blur the
gestures with sostenuto a piacere, but the accompaniment
throughout is meant to be evocative and delicate.
The last stanza builds to a forte before falling back into a softer
ending, suggested to be without a ritardando.
The score for Ironic Poem about Prostitution 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.
Ironic Poem about Prostitution