Sunday, 18 December 2011

Shakespeare's songs from the plays 2: Gerald Finzi (for Vaclav Havel)

Bryn Terfel singing Gerald Finzi's composition. How fitting for Havel's death! Perhaps more than anyone Havel was the emblem of hope and light in 1989 and the few years following. I am much moved by his death.

This song is possibly Shakespeare's greatest, right down - and precisely because of - the pun on chimney sweepers 'coming to dust'. Genius comprises lightness and humour, however dark.

More on Havel in due course.

Fear No More

Fear no more the heat o' the sun;
    Nor the furious winter's rages,
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
    Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney sweepers come to dust.

Fear no more the frown of the great,
    Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
    To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
    Nor the all-dread thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
    Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
    Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
    Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

- from Cymbeline Act Iv, Scene 2

And renowned be thy grave indeed.


Gwil W said...

I just heard the news about an hour ago. There's a tribute at 23:00 on ORF2 here in Austria.

Meanwhile thanks for Bryn Terfel.

panther said...

Sometimes someone just has integrity shining out of them. Havel was such a person.

Very suitable poem, George.

Oh, just to say : I didn't believe Hungarians (or any others) in 1989 were NAIVE (this an addendum to last week's post), just swept up in that wonderful optimism. Most people know, don't they ? that such moments/days can't last, that practical niggles will rear their heads soon enough, but such optimism is a magnificent thing.

Dafydd John said...

I never met Havel, of course, but I did once see him leaving a rather large car and entering a casino on Wenceslas Square - being quite young at the time, I was thrilled.

It's difficult to know when to be a pedant, but it's Bryn Terfel, George...

George S said...

Apologies, Dafydd. Typing too fast, as ever. I'll correct straightaway.