Five Poems from the Forest

for narrator and string quartet

 

Composition Date: 2012

Duration: 5'

 

Text by David Pownall

Information:

 

Commissioned by Beryl Calver-Jones and Gerry Mattock. New version first performed in May 2011 at Holy Innocents Church, Highnam, by Crawford Logan and the Carducci Quartet, with Cian O’Dúill (vla).

 

 

Programme Note:

 

FIVE POEMS FROM THE FOREST

 

Poems by David Pownall

 

for Beryl Calver-Jones

 

In 2005 Beryl Calver-Jones commissioned four poems from David Pownall, and asked me to set them for the Kings Singers, who performed them 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. This vocal work was called ‘Lost and Found in the Forest of Dean’.

 

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.

Rather than simply transcribing the vocal settings, I decided to create a new piece 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’ is inspired by the poem of that name by Sylvia Plath.

 

The new work 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.

 

 

 

 

1. PORIN TROW

 

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

 

 

2. WEATHER REPORT

 

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.

 

 

 

3. INTERLUDE: WINTER TREES (Sylvia Plath)

 

 

 

 

4. NEW YEAR AT THE DUMP

 

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.

 

 

5. A WALK

 

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.

 

 

Buy/Hire from Edition Peters

 

Available Recordings:

Please reload

Search By Tags
Please reload

Follow on Social Media
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle
  • w-facebook
  • Twitter Clean
  • White YouTube Icon