A musical interlude

English mystic poet Thomas Traherne was one of the great inspirations for ‘Chronicles of the Tree’. He was obsessed with re-capturing the way children see the world – that perpetual wonder, that joy in the everyday, little things. He thought he might experience true faith that way. In any case, his piece ‘Vision of Childhood’ is one of my favourites, and the line about the trees in particular always stayed with me:

The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold: the gates were at first the end of the world. The green trees when I saw them first… transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things…

Composer Gerald Finzi put some of those lines to music. The ‘Rhapsody’ from ‘Dies Natalis’ sends a shiver down my spine. Click on the image to have a listen. Sung here by Nick Pritchard…

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2 Responses to A musical interlude

  1. Bahiyyih says:

    A little too fast an interpretation for my liking. But thank you so much for recalling this inspiration. I heard this piece sung by Toby Spence in a much more restrained manner, less melodramatic, less shrill and yet somehow more expansive, with more room to breathe in the glory of the trees. But the poetry is sublime on its own and needs no interpreter by the reader’s heart and mind.

    • MaryV says:

      I know what you mean. This is the only version I could find on youtube. It’s not bad, but I remember the other version you’re referring to, and it was indeed sublime.

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