Concerning The Inevitable
Scoring: Baritone & Piano
(or chamber ensemble: Bb clarinet, french horn, harp, violin, viola, 'cello)
Written: Manchester, UK - 2005; revised: London, UK - 2013
This song cycle sets six poems by W.H. Auden, all of which can be interpreted as taking death for the subject matter, and was written for fellow undergraduate, baritone Marcus Farnsworth, when Jim was in his final year at university.
Minor revisions were made in early 2013, including a version with piano reduction, in order to make the piece more readily performable.
Poems by W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
Give me a doctor partridge-plump,
Short in the leg and broad in the rump,
An endomorph with gentle hands
Who'll never make absurd demands
That I abandon all my vices,
Nor pull a long face in a crisis,
But, with a twinkle in his eye,
Will tell me that I have to die.
To save your world you asked this man to die:
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
Let us honour, if we can,
The vertical man,
Though we value none
But the horizontal one.
Lost on a fog-bound spit of sand
In shoes that pinched me, close at hand
I heard the 'plash of Charon's oar
Who ferries no-one to a happy shore.
As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
And those who are very well-hung.
What is Death? A life
Smaller, simpler ones.