Lyke Wake Dirge – 1


AG: And then the next one, the Lie-Awake Dirge  the Lyke Wake Dirge – the Lie-Awake Dirge  – “the night watch kept over a corpse”. So this is really the… this is really a great powerful (one). Does anybody know this (from) before – Lyke Wake Dirge – “This ae night..” Has anybody read this before?  [to Student] – I’m very curious. Where did you come across it?. In the Auden? [Auden-Pearson anthology] – Where did you get it? –
Yeah – It’s really a great anthology that…You’ve got all five? –  I don’t know if you’ve seen this. We have maybe one volume of it in the library. But the Auden just like a… maybe more extensive than the Norton  (sic). Auden picks it out with his ear and Auden was a great ear.

So – (Allen reads the poem) – “This ae nighte, this ae night,/Every nighte and alle,/Fyre and slaete and candle-lights,/And Christe receive thy saule’  – (Then, what you’re supposed to do is repeat the refrain. The Auden-Pearson has it. They didn’t repeat it here) – “When from hence away art past,/Every nighte and alle,/To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last;/And Christe receive thy saule.” – (What’s “Whinny-muir”? – [Allen looks it up] – “Whinny-muir” is the name given to various prickly shrubs, prickly (moor, the) furze, heather, buckthorn” – And so, “When from hence away art past”, you at last come to a mournful or prickly thorn that you have to stumble through in the Land of the Dead. Okay..”When from hence away art past/Every nighte and alle,/To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last/And Christe receive thy saule”/If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,/Every nighte and alle,/Sit thee down and put them on;/And Christe receive thy saule/ If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane/Every night and alle,/The whinnes shall prick thee to the bare bane;/And Christe receive thy saule./From Whinny-muir whence thou may’st pass/Every nighte and aloe,/To Brig o’ Dread thou com’st at last/And Christe receive thy saule./ From Brig o’ Dread whence thou may’st pass,/Every nighte and aloe,/To Purgatory tyre thou com’st at last;/And Christe receive thy saule./If meat or drink thou ne’er gav’st name,/Every nighte and alle /The fyre will burn thee to the bare bane;/And Christe receive thy saule./ This ae nighte, this ae nighte,/ Every nighte and alle,/ Fyre and slaete and candle-lighte,/And Christe receive thy saule.”

That puts it to you pretty straight. The moral of that is really amazing.. It’s straight instant karma. If you ever gave away socks and shoes to somebody who was barefoot, then, when you come to “the prickly moor”, you can sit down and put yours on, and get them back. And if you ever “gav’st meat or drink”…”(T)he fyre shall never make thee shrink” – (Funny syncopation in that, but the syncopation on the basis of bam-bam-baa, bom-bom baa,bombon-bom, ba-da-da – “This ae night”, or “This one night” – “This/One/Night/Every/Night and All/Fire and Sleep/and/Candle-light/And Christ/Receive/Thy Soul”. It’s one of the most powerful rhythms in any poem that I know of – bom bom baa, bom-bom.. Probably it was chanted originally, a “dirge” – so what would a “dirge” be? – a dirge is a form of song – a chant, actually – [Allen sings/chants] – “This Ae Night (this one night). /Every night and all/Fire and sleet and candle-light/And Christ receive thy soul”, “If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon/Every night and all/Sit thee down and put them on/And Christ receive thy soul” – Something like that, I bet. 

Student: (Sounds like a hymn) 

AG: “Dirge” –  You know, like [Allen mimics/sounds out  Chopin’s funeral march] – Boum-boum-bi-boum Boum ba-doum ba-doum ba-doum  – [he then repeats the poem, emphasizing it, with percussive beat on the desk] –  “This one night/This one nght/ Every night and all/Fire and sleet and candle-light/ And Christ receive thy soul” – ”When thou… to Whinny-muir cometh at last / And Christ receive thy soul” – But you get that pom-pom-ba, pom-pom-ba, pom pom pom pom, ba” 

Student: This is grea

AG: It’s just too much, you know. It comes right out of the gut – (And)  There is music to this

Student: What a difference it makes when they don’t print the refrain here, when it’s left out

AG: The refrain is printed in the Auden book [Auden-Pearson book] -. Well, they just saved… they’re doing it to save space. It’s alright, you can read that in there  -“Every night and all”…”And Christ receive thy soul” – It’s so memorable, you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to… You can get them in a second and you can just put them in place . You can write it in? 

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-and-a-quarter minues in and continuing until approximately sixty-six-and-three-quarter-minutes in]

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