Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


The girl in the tea shop - (2009)    

Ezra Pound

for baritone and piano


The girl in the tea shop
Is not so beautiful as she was,
The August has worn against her.
She does not get up the stairs so eagerly;
Yes, she also will turn middle-aged,
And the glow of youth that she spread about us
As she brought us our muffins
Will be spread about us no longer.
She also will turn middle-aged.

[ 2 pages, circa 3' 00" ]

Ezra Pound


The text is originally titled "The Tea Shop", from Lustra, published in 1916 by Ezra Pound (1885-1972) . As a character study its images seem dark, but of course aging applies to us all, as to the author of these lines. In them I read that not only has the "girl in the tea shop" aged, but so shall our "August" wears against us.



The slow and sonorous lines of the setting are meant to linger, the piano blurring the harmonies a bit as the voice is allowed its rubato and parlando as felt. The C major basis for the opening holds over each measure a lingering B major above it as the inner lines develop. The momentary progression to F as in measure seven falls back to the tonic after a vision of it being more difficult to "get up the stairs."



The B over C "Klang" implies lifting to E major as the upper B functions as a dominant of sorts. Thus, the reprise of the initial gestures move the setting forward, not to return to the original C, just as life does not allow a "do over." The accompaniment ends the setting, the vocal line ceding to its withering away.



The score for The girl in the tea shop 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.


The girl in the tea shop