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Four Songs from Hafez

for high voice and harp

Text: Divan, trans. Jila Peacock

Composition Date: 2007

Duration: 15'

Orchestration: T - Hp

NMO 12753



Programme Note:

Sally Beamish (born 1956)

texts from Divan e Hafez, translated by Jila Peacock

Four Songs from Hafez

for voice and piano





Beamish wrote her Four Songs from Hafez in 2007, to be performed in October that year by Mark Padmore and Roger Vignoles at the Leeds Lieder+ festival in Yorkshire. The cycle consists, as the composer explains, of ‘settings of the 14th-century Persian Sufi poet, each using a bird or animal to describe separation from, and longing for, the Beloved’. The English translations are by the Iranian-born, Glasgow-based artist Jila Peacock, and come from her book Ten Poems from Hafez, in which the translations are placed alongside the original poems, each rendered in Persian calligraphy to form the shape of the creature described.

These images are matched by the musical imagery of the settings. The ‘Nightingale’ sings its passionate song in constantly varied phrases high in the piano, over a recurring ostinato figure. The references to falling in ‘Peacock’ are matched by the piano’s cascading falling figures (in Eastern- sounding modes) at different speeds. The ‘Fish’ swims in clear water, disturbed only by the swirling eddies created by a traditional Iranian motif. ‘Hoopoe’ – in Middle Eastern mythology a magical bird, the messenger between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba – is again represented by its call, repeated as a refrain throughout.

texts: Divan-e-Hafez, translated by Jila Peacock

I. Nightingale

Roaming the dawn garden

I heard the call of a nightingale

Forlorn like me he loved the rose

And in that cry surged all his warbling grief

I drifted in that garden’s timeless moment

Balancing the plight of rose and bird

For endless roses flower each day

Yet no man plucks a single bloom

Without the risk of thorn

O Hafez, seek no gain from the orbit of this wheel

It has a thousand failings and no concern for you

II. Peacock

Until your hair falls through the fingers of the breeze,

My yearning heart lies torn apart with grief.

The dusty mole encircled by your curls, Is like the ink-drop falling in the curve of J.

And wafting tresses in the perfect garden of your face,

Drop like a peacock falling into paradise.

My soul searches for the comfort of a glance,

Light as the dust arising from your path,

Your shadow falls across my frame, Like the breath of Jesus over melting bones.

And those who turned to Mecca as their only haven, Now at the knowledge of your lips tumble at the tavern door.

O precious love, the suffering of your absence and lost Hafez

Fell and fused together with the ancient pact.

III. Fish

When my beloved offers the cup

Graven idols are crushed,

And those who gaze into that intoxicating eye

Call ecstatically for rescue.

I plunge into the ocean like a fish

Craving the beloved’s hook,

I fall pleading at those feet

In hope of a helping hand.

O happy the heart who like Hafez

Has tasted the wine of creation.

IV. Hoopoe

O Hoopoe of the east wind, To Sheba I shall send you.

Take heed from where to where

I shall send you

Pity a bird like you Lodged in a well of sorrow. From here, to the nest of devotion

I shall send you

In quest of love There is no near or far but only now.

I see you whole, and my fealty I shall send you

Whispering in the winds

Each dawn and dusk,

Convoys of sweet invocations

I shall send you

Love’s face

Reveals the joy of all Creation

In the God-reflecting mirror

I shall send you


Buy/Hire from Norsk Musikforlag

Available Recordings:

I. Nightingale

II. Peacock

III. Fish

IV. Hoopoe

Purchase here

#harp #voice #highvoice #tenor

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