A Seaside Romance - (2010)
for tenor and piano
"My name," I said, "is Peleg Doddleding,
And Doddleding has been my name since birth."
And having told this girl this shameful thing
I bowed my head and waited for her mirth.
She did not laugh. I looked at her, and she,
With wistful gladness in her yellow eyes,
Swept with her gradual gaze the mocking sea.
Then dried her gaze and swept the scornful skies.
I thought perhaps she had not heard aright.
"My name," I said again, "is Doddleding!"
Thinking she would reply, "Ah, then, goodnight--
no love of mine round such a name could cling!"
We'd met upon the beach an hour before,
And our loves lept together, flame and flame.
I loved. She loved. We loved. "She'll love no more,"
I moaned, "when she learns Doddleding's my name!"
She was not beautiful, nor did she seem
The sort of person likely to be good;
Her outcast manner 'twas that bade me dream
If any one could stand my name she could.
She seemed a weakly, sentimental thing,
Viscious, no doubt, and dull and somewhat wried.
I said once more, "I'm Mister Doddleding!"
Feebly she smiled. I saw she had no pride.
The westering sun above the ocean shook
With ecstasy, the flushed sea shook beneath . . . .
I trembled too . . . She smiled! . . . . and one long look
Showed something queer had happened to her teeth.
O world of Gladness! World of gold and flame!
"She loves me then, in spite of all!" I cried.
"Though Peleg Doddleding is still my name,
Yet Peleg Doddleding has found a bride!"
I stroked her hair . . . . I found it was a wig . . . .
And as I slipped upon her hand the ring
She said, "My name is Effie Muddlesnig--
Oh, thank you! Thank you Mister Doddleding!"
In all the world she was the only one
For me, and I for her . . . . lives touch and pass,
And then, one day beneath a westering sun,
We find our own! One of her eyes is glass.
[ 12 pages, circa 6' 10" ]
Don Marquis (1878 - 1937) was in full name Donald Robert Perry Marquis, a newspaper columnist, humorist, and poet most known today for his several tales of
Archie and Mehitabel, a cockroach and a cat. This nonsense poem comes from his collection, Noah an' Jonah an' Cap'n John Smith (1916).
The wonderful silliness of this narrative amused me greatly. The speaker is Peleg Doddleding, whose odd moniker has caused him great distress. In the course of the story we learn he finds someone rather in his circumstances and perhaps worse. For this, he easily ignores those physical features which the speaker blithely ignores in his enthusiasm to find a mate -- a glass eye, problematic teeth of an unspecified nature, not beautiful in many ways. And yet our Mister Doddleding rhapsodizes over her. Thus is it with many couples, of which one often hears, "I don't get what he sees in her."
The many stanzas of the poem are bounded by meter changes, the opening 3/4 and each additional occurrence being the "curtains" between stanzas.
The successive stanzas begin to slip up by half steps at the third stanza of the poem, and the 3/4 "curtain" is truncated.
The flavor of the 12/8 accompaniment changes to a more lyrically enthusiastic set of gestures as our speaker recounts the fateful meeting. Trills in the right hand of the accompaniment sing out, all a-twitter.
The rhapsodic character rises into E major, as "ecstasy" is celebrated, the vocal line rising in intensity.
The final statement recalls an earlier line, as "lives touch and pass." The vocal line rises to its height and finds its cadence on the major third, bright and optimistic for the world in which one may exclaim, "We find our own!"
The score for A Seaside Romance 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.
A Seaside Romance