SATB a cappella
Text: James Elroy Flecker
Duration: ca. 6:00
For a man who was not much older than thirty when he died, Flecker was far ahead of his time. My setting begins with an archaic, chant-like verse, depicting an ancient voice from beyond. The music flows between several different tonalities and time signatures, as mankind has passed through the centuries, ever-changing and unsettling, but — despite all questions in our lives — some things endure eons: faith, love, empathy, war and amity, forgiveness and understanding, uncertainty and death. The greatest wish of any artist is that the words and music he writes will remain long after his passing and bring another age’s wisdom to the soul of the future.
I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers,
The way I cannot pass along.
I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?
How shall we conquer? Like a wind,
That falls at eve, our fancies blow,
And old Maeonides the blind,
Said it three thousand years ago.
O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet, English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.
Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space,
To greet you. You will understand.