Tommy - (2017)    

Charles Dodgson

for high voice and piano


Diu patiens Felis,
Tuis victima telis,
Mitto tibi, crudelis,
Multis surdus querelis,
Hanc picturam, sivelis
Id habere, abomi
nabilissime domi
ne et passime homi
num quos vidi !


2 pages, circa 2' 00"


The original text ends not with "miao," but with Dodgson signing as if the cat:  "(signed) Tommy."  [ 1 ]   Janet McMullin from Christ Church Library wrote an article entitled "The 'Real' Alice and a new collection on deposit in the Library" in which this text is included. She published a translation in the library newsletter, but first commented:  "After some struggles, I managed to come up with a translation of the text, 1 which retains seven syllables per line as in the original and manages rhymes in both stanzas - poor rhymes, I will admit, but the original is not great art either!"


McMullin's translation (with explanation of a term marked by asterisk below, "Dominie is an old term (Scots) for a schoolteacher or
pedagogue") is:


Long suffering feline, poor
Cat, I, victim of your claw,
Send to you, cruel, ignor -
- ing your complaints, deaf to more,
This photograph, if 'tis your
Wish to have it, abomi -
- nable (most by far) domi -
- nie*, worst of all the nomi -
- nate race I've seen.
(signed) Tommy.




The texture of the opening suggests perhaps distant bells, in a lightly polytonal color. For the Anglican flavor to those in Carroll's circle of that time, a chant-like melodic line intones, before becoming more intense and comical at its "meowing" end.





For other setting of the texts of Charles Dodgson -- Lewis Carroll -- click here .


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.





[ 1 ]  A color facsimile is found in the Christ Church Library Newsletter,

Volume 9, Issues 1, 2 and 3, 2012-2013, p. 33, which is available online.