Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Poetry and Pop Songs

Several of the teachers in my NEH seminar have asked about teaching the lyrics to popular songs--and still more, rap--as poetry.

No time to weigh in on this right now, except to note that we might be shamed into this not only by Sappho, but by Donne, at least according to this piece in the London Times. "Four musical scores by various composers of the day," it tells me, "reveal that Donne intended some of his words to be sung rather than read." At least seven composers in Donne's day set his words to music, with one poem, "Break of Day," "set and printed simultaneously by three composers — John Dowland, Orlando Gibbons and William Corkine."


’Tis true, ’tis day; what though it be?
O, wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because ‘tis light?
Did we lie down because ‘twas night?
Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.

Light hath no tongue, but is all eye;
If it could speak as well as spy,
This were the worst that it could say,
That being well I fain would stay,
And that I loved my heart and honour so
That I would not from him, that had them, go.

Must business thee from hence remove?
O! that’s the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.

This makes me very, very happy somehow. Anyone have an mp3 out there?

1 comment:

Gary Schmidt said...

I got quite a few groans from my students when I played Benjamin Britten's musical rendition of Donne's Holy Sonnets (URL listed below.) You be the judge ... :)