Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


What Could I Do? - (2009)    

Richard Le Gallienne

for medium voice and piano


I meant to do my work to-day --
But a brown bird sang in the apple-tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand --
So what could I do but laugh and go?

[ 2 pages, circa 1' 40" ]

Richard Le Gallienne


Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947) was an English author, poet and essayist, associated with the literary life of London in the 1890s. He was also a literary critic and contributor to the Yellow Book, along with Aubrey Beardsley, Max Beerbohm and Ernest Dowson, and associated with the Rhymer's Club. He resided in the USA later in his life, though not altering his "period" style. Works include collections of poems, My Ladies' Sonnets (1887), Volumes in Folio (1889), the novel Quest of the Golden Girl (1896), and Attitudes and Avowals (1910), The Lonely Dancer and Other Poems (1914), reminiscences about the prominent literary figures, The Romantic 90’s (1925) and From a Paris Garret (1936). The American actress Eva Le Gallienne (1899-1991) was his daughter, by his second marriage. This text above is drawn from the 1914 anthology.



The setting is bright with major seven chords and jaunty rhythms to reflect the text's urge to laugh and run away from the workaday world. The two stanzas of the poem are reflected in two strophes, though the structure of each strophe is itself in two sections, varying by tempo and gestures. 


The song form is truncated, such that the second "verse" breaks off with an up-tempo reprise of the opening gestures at an even faster tempo.



The score for What Could I Do? 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.


What Could I Do?