A Thanksgiving Fable - (2009)
for medium voice and piano
It was a hungry pussy cat, upon Thanksgiving morn,
And she watched a thankful little mouse, that ate an ear of corn.
"If I ate that thankful little mouse, how thankful he should be,
When he has made a meal himself, to make a meal for me!
"Then with his thanks for having fed, and his thanks for feeding me,
With all his thankfulness inside, how thankful I shall be!"
Thus mused the hungry pussy cat, upon Thanksgiving Day;
But the little mouse had overheard and declined (with thanks) to stay.
[ 2 pages, circa 1' 45" ]
The question of the "common good" has become a long time feature of political debate around the world, the definition of which is regularly and assiduously avoided in favor of the seeming power of the phrase or slogan itself, as if the meaning of it can be dealt with after individuals are constrained by this common good. From such a perspective I read this fable as a question of the "common good," as Herford cleverly confuses "thankfulness" from two characters which cannot be melded into a "common good." The poet allows the mouse to escape, but that of course is not the outcome of this story in every instance. Often the mouse is subjected to the "thankfulness" of the cat, as human history proves in the hundreds of millions of victims of one form or another of the "common good," for which no doubt one group of "cats" was thankful for being able to absorb the "thankfulness" of those who were eaten in one metaphoric yet deadly way or another.
The raised fourth of the otherwise natural minor scale decorates the melodic shape, as hinted in the opening gambit. The brittle, widely spaced parallel octaves in the accompaniment contrast with the arpeggiated diatonic clusters as a second motif. The form is a standard two verse form with minor alterations as per the scansion of the text itself.
The resting on an altered tonic chord moving to the parallel chord form on the dominant return the setting to a final punctuation as the setting closes with a musical exclamation point.
The score for A Thanksgiving Fable 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 Thanksgiving Fable