Love and Poetry - (2016)
Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle
for soprano and piano
O Love, how thou art tired out with rhyme!
Thou art a tree whereon all poets clime;
And from thy branches every one takes some
Of thy sweet fruit, which Fancy feeds upon.
But now thy tree is left so bare and poor,
That they can scarcely gather one plumb more.
2 pages, circa 2' 00"
Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle (c. 1623– c.1673-4)
Margaret Cavendish was seen in one source "by her contemporaries as being rather eccentric. She was extravagant and flirtatious, accused of using speech full of 'oaths and obscenity', and was noted for her unusual sense of fashion. This reputation for eccentricity survives today, when Margaret is widely referred to as 'Mad Madge'." Perhaps mad by social conventions of that time, but she was a prolific writer, with such as Poems and Fancies (1653), The World's Olio (1655), Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655), A True Relation of the birth, breeding and life of Margaret Cavendish (1656), Nature's Pictures (1656), Love's Adventures (1662), Plays (1662), Orations of divers sorts (1662), CCXI socialble Letters (1664), Philosophical Letters (1664), Observations on Experimental Philosophy (1666), Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668), and Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668).
The setting is a simple song form taking the single stanza and treating it as if two. The "Tristan" coloring (polytonal via the minor tenth) of the diminished minor seven is piled together as an opening gesture, before the now-ironic text takes its lyrical stage. Given the centuries following Margaret's sentiment that "love" is tired our with rhyme which provide today with love poems aplenty, this text is a historical amusement at the minimum. The text was found in the anthology, A Book of Women’s Verse. ed. by J. C. Squire, 1921.
The score for Love and Poetry 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.
Love and Poetry