Pieces of Peacock Pie


Pieces of Peacock Pie - (2006)    

Walter de la Mare
Twelve songs for medium high voice and piano


i. The Lost Shoe    [ 5 pages, circa 2' 15" ]

Poor little Lucy
By some mischance,
Lost her shoe
As she did dance -
'Twas not on the stairs,
Not in the hall;
Not where they sat
At supper at all.
She looked in the garden,
But there it was not;
Henhouse, or kennel,
Or high dovecote.
Dairy and meadow,
And wild woods through
Showed not a trace
Of Lucy's shoe.
Bird nor bunny
Nor glimmering moon
Breathed a whisper
Of where 'twas gone.
It was cried and cried,
Oyez and Oyez!    [ 1 ]
In French, Dutch, Latin,
And Portuguese.
Ships the dark seas
Went plunging through,
But none brought news
Of Lucy's shoe;
And still she patters
In silk and leather,
O'er snow, sand, shingle,
In every weather;
Spain, and Africa,
Java, China,
And lamped Japan;
Plain and desert,
She hops-hops through,
Pernambuco    [ 2 ]
To gold Peru;
Mountain and forest,
And river too,
All the world over
For her lost shoe.

ii. Tired Tim     [ 2 pages, circa 1' 30" ]

Poor Tired Tim! It's sad for him.
He lags the long bright morning through,
Ever so tired of nothing to do;
He moons and mopes the livelong day,
Nothing to think about, nothing to say;
Up to bed with his candle to creep,
Too tired to yawn, too tired to sleep:
Poor Tired Tim! It's sad for him.

iii. The Huntsmen    [ 2 pages, circa 1' 00" ]

Three jolly gentlemen,
In coats of red,
Rode their horses
Up to bed.

Three jolly gentlemen
Snored till morn,
Their horses champing
The golden corn.

Three jolly gentlemen,
At break of day,
Came clitter-clatter down the stairs
And galloped away.

iv. Some One    [ 2 pages, circa 2' 20" ]

Some one came knocking
At my wee, small door;
Some one came knocking,
I'm sure - sure - sure;
I listened, I opened,
I looked to left and right,
But naught there was a-stirring
In the still dark night;
Only the busy beetle
Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
The screech-owl's call,
Only the cricket whistling
While the dewdrops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
At all, at all, at all.

v. Miss T    [ 2 pages, circa 1' 10" ]

It's a very odd thing -----
As odd as can be ---
That whatever Miss T. eats
Turns into Miss T.;
Porridge and apples,
Mince, muffins and mutton,
Jam, junket, jumbles ----
Not a rap, not a button
It matters; the moment
They're out of her plate,
Though shared by Miss Butcher
And sour Mr. Bate;
Tiny and cheerful,
And neat as can be,
Whatever Miss T. eats
Turns into Miss T.

vi. The Cupboard    [ 2 pages, 1' 00" ]

I know a little cupboard,
With a teeny tiny key,
And there's a jar of Lollypops
For me, me, me.

It has a little shelf, my dear,
As dark as dark can be,
And there's a dish of Banbury Cakes   [ 3 ]
For me, me, me.

I have a small fat grandmamma,
With a very slippery knee,
And she's the Keeper of the Cupboard
With the key, key, key.

And I'm very good, my dear,
As good as good can be,
There's Banbury Cakes, and Lollypops
For me, me, me.

vii. Hide and Seek    [ 2 pages, 1' 00" ]

Hide and seek, says the Wind,
In the shade of the woods;
Hide and seek, says the Moon,
To the hazel buds;
Hide and seek, says the Cloud,
Star on to star;
Hide and seek, says the Wave,
At the harbour bar;
Hide and seek, say I,
To myself, and step
Out of the dream of Wake
Into the dream of Sleep.

viii. Then    [3 pages, circa 2' 20" ]

Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty
A hundred years ago,
All through the night with lantern bright
The Watch trudged to and fro,
And little boys tucked snug abed
Would wake from dreams to hear -
'Two o' the morning by the clock,
And the stars a-shining clear!'
Or, when across the chimney-tops
Screamed shrill a North-East gale,
A faint and shaken voice would shout,
'Three! And a storm of hail!'

ix. Full Moon    [ 2 pages, circa 1' 00" ]

One night as Dick lay half asleep,
Into his drowsy eyes
A great still light begins to creep
From out the silent skies.
It was lovely moon's, for when
He raised his dreamy head,
Her surge of silver filled the pane
And streamed across his bed.
So, for a while, each gazed at each -
Dick and the solemn moon -
Till, climbing slowly on her way,
She vanished, and was gone.

x. Poor Henry    [ 2 pages, circa 1' 25" ]

Thick in its glass
The physic stands,
Poor Henry lifts
Distracted hands;
His round cheek wans
In the candlelight,
To smell that smell!
To see that sight!

Finger and thumb
Clinch his small nose,
A gurgle, a gasp,
And down it goes;
Scowls Henry now;
But mark that cheek,
Sleek with the bloom
Of health next week!

xi. Will Ever?     [ 3 pages, circa 2'00" ]

Will he ever be weary of wandering,
The flaming sun?
Ever weary of waning in lovelight,
The white still moon?
Will ever a shepherd come
With a crook of simple gold,
And lead all the little stars
Like lambs to the fold?

Will ever the Wanderer sail
From over the sea,
Up the river of water,
To the stones to me?
Will he take us all into his ship,
Dreaming, and waft us far,
To where in the clouds of the West
The Islands are?

xii. Song of the Secret   [  3 pages, circa 2' 45" ]

Where is beauty?
Gone, gone:
The cold winds have taken it
With their faint moan;
The white stars have shaken it,
Trembling down,
Into the pathless deeps of the sea.
Gone, gone
Is beauty from me.

The clear naked flower
Is faded and dead;
The green-leafed willow,
Drooping her head,
Whispers low to the shade
Of her boughs in the stream,
Sighing a beauty,
Secret as dream.

[ 31 Pages, circa 19' 45" ]


Walter de la Mare


This song cycle's title reflects the original title, Peacock Pie, A Book of Rhymes, by Walter de la Mare, a small book of poems ostensibly for children which is prefaced with a quote by Isaac Watts:  "He told me his dreams. . . " In some of the other texts I have set, de la Mare speaks of dreams, and these dreams of childhood are an adult's dreams. They are a retrospection of times past, or perhaps times now lost. I therefore see these poems in part as meant also for adults, as we each remember our own childhood - the medicine difficult to swallow, the obsessive search for something lost, the boredom which sometimes came, wild imaginings, dreams, fantasy and play.


Carl Gustav Jung wrote that the "...dynamic principle of fantasy is play, which belongs also to the child, and as such it appears inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable." Certainly another visit in memory and musings to one's childhood proves this out, but also this same "dynamic principle of fantasy" -- play -- is what allows the composing of such a set of songs. It is, as Jung reminds, also that which powers so many other facets of a productive and inventive life. Those "adults" who would strip our childish fantasy from us have lost theirs; we must not heed such a poor example, but rather continue with the best of our childhood, even as we might recall it with some melancholy for a time now past.


  Other songs to texts of de la Mare include Three Poems of Walter de la Mare for mezzo soprano and piano, Music for soprano and piano, and All That's Past for medium voice and piano.


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.


Pieces of Peacock Pie




[ 1 ]        Rhymes with "Portuguese."


[ 2 ]        Pernambuco is a state of Brazil, located in the Brazilian Northeast.


[ 3 ]      Banbury is a market town located on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England. Residents of Banbury are called "Banburians." The town is famed for Banbury Cakes – similar to Eccles cakes but oval in shape - a special fruit and pastry cake, that are still produced there.