Good and Clever


Good and Clever - (2007)    

Elizabeth Wordsworth

for medium voice and piano


If all the good people were clever,
    And all clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever
    We thought that it possibly could.

But somehow 'tis seldom or never
    The two hit it off as they should,
The good are so harsh to the clever,
    The clever, so rude to the good!

So friends, let it be our endeavour
    To make each by each understood;
For few can be good, like the clever,
    Or clever, so well as the good.

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 50" ]

St. Hugh's Hall Crest, Oxford


Dame Elizabeth Wordsworth (1840-1932) was the great-niece of the poet William Wordsworth. She was the Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, from 1878-1909, when she founded St. Hugh's Hall, a college for poor female undergraduates, on Norham Gardens in North Oxford. This was later established as St Hugh's College, Oxford, which is today the largest college in Oxford University.


Elizabeth Wordsworth had a strong sense of the historical perspective in which her new foundation would take its place. Using money left to her by her father, a bishop of Lincoln, she named St. Hugh's after both her father and St. Hugh of Avalon, who was canonized in 1220, and in whose diocese Oxford had been. Elizabeth Wordsworth was a champion of the cause of women's education, and her foundation was intended to enable poorer women to gain an Oxford education.



This cheerful setting of her humorous text is built on small, diatonic pianistic pyramids developing into the underlying gestures which accompany the vocal line. In a day and age when discourteous civil exchanges and rude ad hominem attacks populate even academic circles, the sentiment of this short poem merits serious thought as well as pleasant remembrance of its good counsel.




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 piano-vocal score.


Good and Clever