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Lost and Found in the Forest of Dean

Composition Date: 2006

Duration: 8'

Instrumentation: 2CT, T, 2Bar, B

Text: David Pownall



Commissioned by Beryl Calver-Jones for the King's Singers, and first performed in that version at the Cheltenham Festival in 2006.

Programme Note:


four poems by David Pownall

for Beryl Calver-Jones

These poems, and their musical settings, were originally commissioned by Beryl Calver-Jones for the Kings Singers, and first performed in that version at the Cheltenham Festival in 2006.

Beryl had requested that the poems should have a connection to the Forest of Dean, where she lives. David Pownall seemed a clear choice for the words, as we had worked together on several projects in the past, and he had recently moved to the Forest of Dean himself. It is an ancient place of beauty, mystery and surprises.

In 2009 Beryl’s partner Gerry Mattock asked me to make a new version of the piece, this time for narrator with string quintet, for the Carducci Quartet.

I have reworked the music, creating four instrumental movements, with spoken voice, from the original material. At the centre of the piece is an interlude. This is based on the middle movement of my violin sonata ‘Winter Trees’ - the first piece Gerry and Beryl heard of mine (in 1996) – a chance encounter which has had a profoundly positive effect on my work and creativity. ‘Winter Trees’, in turn, is based on the poem of that name by Sylvia Plath.

This new version was first performed in May 2011 at Holy Innocents Church, Highnam, which borders the Forest, by Crawford Logan and the Carducci Quartet, with Cian O'Dúill, viola.


On the day we moved in

we stood in the road

admiring our house

having stripped off its ivy

in a frenzy of change

Coming out of his door

to see who we were

he walked to his gate

and extended his hand

gave a biblical name

You’re changing the ways

O the old ways

But whatever you do

You’re just porin’trow

Porin’ trow? Porin’ trow?

Yes, just porin’ trow.

Say that slowly for us

So we’ll understand

what you’re saying

Stranger, whatever you do

you’re just pouring through

like all of us do

pouring through

pouring through

like all of us do


In forest rain fugitives gather

funghi below trees,

spores sail upwards

past leaves seeking sun

in the free, unhindered sky.

Through forest snow come the detectives

tracking down murderers,

following prints published

by bloody feet, bodies

speechless in drifts.

By forest wind the sweet air’s combed

oaks planted in paradise shake

over the graves of angels.

Spores, prints and blood

End up in the eyes of Adam and Eve.


Unwanted Christmas presents poignant

In the late afternoon light – the exercise cycle,

(I’ve never been so insulted in my life!)

The centrifugal vacuum cleaner,

(Houseproud I’m not, but never call me dirty.)

The motor mower that lost the will to start.

The sauna kit that cooked the owner to a

Turn. But not in plastic bags, if you please.

Computers that have argued back just once too often.

Baby chairs encrusted with the pulp of fruit.

Mountains of glass which glitter with the message –

All these you have known. Drink is time, is time.

In the shelter of the skip for corrugated cardboard only

Stand dead batteries, spent chemicals, and garden

Waste. But not in plastic bags, if you please.

Mattresses of dreams, of birth, of giving up the ghost.

Paper, paper, paper, written on with

Yours sincerely, truly, ever, almost, see you, farewell,

Gone. It took us twenty years

To throw away what now awaits the pomp of burial by

Bulldozer. But not in plastic bags, if you please,

If you please. Not in plastic bags, if you please.


Within the eye, these wooded hills seem heightless.

Their shade is everything, their quiet, our thoughts

As we walk up not noticing the slope.

We foot the rising ground beneath the leaves.

Oak and fern, oak and fern, huge age and tender green.

Foxgloves raise their purple spires of death.

The land swells up in secret, catching unaware

The wanderers threading their way through the trees

Who question why their hearts beat harder.

The summit is a glade in open sunlight.

We cannot see the greater world for branches.

Within the eye, these wooded hills seem heightless.


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