Singing Tennyson

Now sleeps the crimson petal
Now sleeps the crimson petal

What is it called when a person suddenly notices certain objects everywhere, not because of increased frequency but because of increased awareness?

There is a word, but I can’t think of it.

As you may have noticed from our Tennyson, Ulysses and 007 post, The Daughter and I are studying Tennyson this term, and now I’m seeing him everywhere.  Well, more precisely, I’m seeing his poetry crop up in unexpected places.

One of The Daughter’s assigned Tennyson poems this week is Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal.”  A lush romantic poem with beautiful imagery, it is among several from a longer poem entitled The Princess.  In searching for the excerpt online, I came across listings for several musical interpretations. Who knew?  I happen to be particularly fond of poetry that has been set to music.  For one thing the lyrics are meaningful and evocative, rather than repetitive and, well, not meaningful and evocative.  But too, isn’t it so interesting to hear the poetry the way composers hear it?

I’m posting three different musical interpretations for you below! Enjoy!

This choral composition by Paul Mealor, a contemporary Welsh composer, has beautiful texture and layers of harmony. It is by far my favorite of the three.

This clip is from the movie Vanity Fair, based on the book by William Makepeace Thackeray.  Reece Witherspoon, as the social climber Becky Sharp (and accompanied by the wife of her “patron.”) sings a poignant tune composed by Mychael Danna, the Canadian film score composer who recently won accolades for his Life of Pi score.

This is by another contemporary composer, Ned Rorem and beautifully sung.

Oh – and for those who have a penchant for Tom Hiddleston – you might appreciate this link, and certainly this video:

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

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