Monday, August 2, 2010

"Well You Needn't" - A Tale of Two Charles' Part I

   From “Sospiri Di Roma.”

III. The White Peacock
William Sharp (1855–1905)

HERE where the sunlight
Floodeth the garden,
Where the pomegranate
Reareth its glory
Of gorgeous blossom;        5
Where the oleanders
Dream through the noontides;
And, like surf o’ the sea
Round cliffs of basalt,
The thick magnolias        10
In billowy masses
Front the sombre green of the ilexes:
Here where the heat lies
Pale blue in the hollows,
Where blue are the shadows        15
On the fronds of the cactus,
Where pale blue the gleaming
Of fir and cypress,
With the cones upon them
Amber or glowing        20
With virgin gold:
Here where the honey-flower
Makes the heat fragrant,
As though from the gardens
Of Gulistân,        25
Where the bulbul singeth
Though a mist of roses,
A breath were borne:
Here where the dream-flowers,
The cream-white poppies        30
Silently waver,
And where the Scirocco,
Faint in the hollows,
Foldeth his soft white wings in the sunlight,
And lieth sleeping        35
Deep in the heart of
A sea of white violets:
Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty
Moveth in silence, and dreamlike, and slowly,
White as a snow-drift in mountain valleys        40
When softly upon it the gold light lingers:
White as the foam o’ the sea that is driven
O’er billows of azure agleam with sun-yellow:
Cream-white and soft as the breasts of a girl,
Moves the White Peacock, as though through the noon-tide        45
A dream of the moonlight were real for a moment.
Dim on the beautiful fan that he spreadeth,
Foldeth and spreadeth abroad in the sunlight,
Dim on the cream-white are blue adumbrations,
Shadows so pale in their delicate blueness        50
That visions they seem as of vanishing violets,
The fragrant white violets veinéd with azure,
Pale, pale as the breath of blue smoke in far woodlands.
Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty,
White as a cloud through the heats of the noontide        55
Moves the White Peacock.

If you've ever wondered what a poem 

as beautiful as 

The White Peacock 

might sound like,

you're in luck. 

One of my favorite composers, 

a composer whose works we do not hear

 enough of, 

set this stunning piece to music 

in 1915.

Charles Tomlinson Griffes'

works make me think of a dreamy 

American Impressionism. 

His settings of William Sharp's

The Roman Sketches

The White Peacock
The Fountains of the Acqua Paola

could not be more beautiful. 

Sadly, they are rarely performed.

James Tocco's performances of Griffes'

works are wonderful.

As I consider the upcoming concert season

I am thrilled that there's



and more...

but I do wish that we'd have

 the opportunity to hear




and the other Charles

once in a while.

Stay tuned for Part II.


  1. Is the top photo of Sharp? He's got such a fascinating look. I just stared at it for the longest time, just drawn to it. Interesting post. Looking forward to part two.

  2. Hello Willow,

    Yes the top picture is of Sharp. Kinda looks like Rembrandt or perhaps one of the characters in one of his paintings. Griffes' music is not to be missed. I hope you'll find some on your player soon!