PROGRAMME NOTES

Elegy

(1966)
Text: Swinburne and Latin Requiem
Counter-tenor, cello and harpsichord

The Elegy is a miniature cantata based on a poem about a cat by Swinburne. The composer has added sentences from the Latin Requiem to create an epitaph for an old and distinguished cat who died in Sussex in 1966.

Elegy was written for Owen Wynne, who gave the first performance in 1966 and the first BBC broadcast on 13 October 1966.

Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
      Condescend
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.

All your wondrous wealth of hair,
      Dark and fair,
Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
As the clouds and beams of night,
Pays my reverent hand's caress
Back with friendlier gentleness.

Dogs may fawn on all and some
      As they come;
You, a friend of loftier mind,
Answer friends alone in kind.
Just your foot upon my hand
Softly bids it understand.

© 2008-17 Peter Dickinson

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