Campion – “Follow Thy Fair Sun…”

Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

AG: So the next one that he (Thomas Campion) has is  “Follow Thy.. Sun Unhappy Shadow” (Norton (anthology) page 225, it’s the page before, in the Norton, it begins at the bottom of page 225 ) – Do you know what it… does anyone know how to sing that? if you’ve got the music? – Does anybody know that one? – [to Student] Have you worked on that at all?
Student: I.. I.. I could kind of do it.
AG: Yeah, well let’s have..
Student: Do it, first?
AG:  Want to do this first? – or do yours? – Maybe we should do his first …just to compare because his would intimidate everyone else, the particular thing, the music.  You got the music?
Student: I can, just, like, try and sing it – somewhat. I kind of remember the melody.  I remember the melody kind of…
AG: Let me get this lined up.
Student: (starts humming) –
AG: Did you have the music at all?
Student; I have a book
AG: I got it in this book too. This is a.. in case anybody doesn’t know.. it’san Elizabethan song book edited by Auden (W.H.Auden, so here’s Auden appearing again in the twentieth-century, not only did he resurrect the alliterative verse but he also was, like, totally into music and poetics, working with (Igor) Stravinsky, working with (Bertolt) Brecht, working with the Mahagonny opera, working with The Rake’s Progress of Stravinsky and also working with.. I think he and (Chester) Kallman did a translation of The Marriage of..  some Mozart, it was Don Giovanni..?
Student  The Magic Flute
AG: Magic Flute.  So here he’s written the introduction to a book of Elizabethan music and songs..  presented…  Is this clear, or is this clear [sic].. this is ok?   –
Student: This is going to be..This is very close

[At approximately eighteen-and-a-quarter minutes in, Student starts singing “Follow Thy Fair sun”  accapella  – AG joins in at the end – “Till both at once do fade” ]

Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow,
Though thou be black as night,
And she made all of light;
Yet follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow!

Follow her, whose light thy light depriveth!
Though here thou livest disgraced,
And she in heaven is placed;
Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth!

Follow those pure beams, whose beauty burneth!
That so have scorchèd thee;
As thou still black must be,
Till her kind beams thy black to brightness turneth!

Follow her, while yet her glory shineth!
There comes a luckless night
That will dim all her light;
And this the black unhappy shade divineth.

Follow still, since so thy Fates ordainèd!
The sun must have his shade,
Till both at once do fade;
The sun still proved, the shadow still disdainèd!

AG: First time I heard that what I really dug was that  third line – “Tho’ she..”  How does that go? the third line of each stanza that has a real straight-upward thing, all the way up to the light every time, up to the sun, or up to the light
Student: Dramatic, yeah?
AG: Yeah.. what’s that? How does that go?
Student(s): [sing] – “And she made all of light” – [AG joins in again – “And she made all of light”]
AG: Yeah -da-da da-da-da. It’s really good.
So, that’s a little bit like my own, a little bit like I was talking about my own.. my own theory, which was that you just simply have the tune follow and go up and down, according to the meaning, as well as tone pointing to the meaning of it.
It’s obvious. But also, according to the tone that you might have with any of the vowels.

AG: [to Dick Gallup, in attendance] Have you ever worked on any of these, Dick (Gallup) ?
Dick Gallup: I mean, of these ones? Not of Campion, no.
AG: With music?
Dick Gallup: (I haven’t)

AG: A couple of years ago, remember, there was a…Mushka (Kochan)  was going to come today and she was going to sing something . She didn’t get here yet. Maybe she’ll show up – Mushka and RF (sic) (figuring out how the music would go) – andremember GB (sic)a couple of years ago?, big fellow,from Tufts well he..
So he could sight read so he prepared (with Mushka) he prepared a whole bunch of this Campion.
So..  Do we want to hear that again, or do we want to go on?  I’d like to hear it again.
Do you mind? Does anybody else want to try?  Does anybody else sight-read?

Student: I do
AG: You’ve done.. have you worked on it?…  [Students prepare to perform as a duet]
You’ve got the same music you say ? Maybe we should get the other edition back, I’ll trade you
Student: It’s right here.
AG: Can I have the translation back? I don’t know if it’s the same.  Ah, yes, (it’s)..  Noah Greenberg has done a whole book of them. So, I think…

[From approximately twenty-two-and-three-quarter minutes in, to approximately twenty-five-and-a-half minutes in, the Student duet sing “Follow Thy Fair Sun..” a reprise of the poem –   AG, again, at moments joins in – even corrects “scorch-ed” ..”sustaineth, I guess”]

AG: Well that was pretty good. So (it was) note for note for note, syllable, note for syllable. Pretty much according to the meaning. The notes articulating the sounds, I think, really nicely. What’s the poem about?  Years ago, I…
Student; I could have loved. isn’t it?
AG: Well, I suppose, again, they all seem to be that (tho’ it’s a funny kind of…
Student’ Seems like this guy is chasing this girl around and…
AG: Yeah. (And) he’s a masochist, a real masochist –
“When I was young, I..” .. It’s actually pretty..  (yeah, you know that‘s a great book, there’s a copy of it in our library). At the beginning, he’s comparing light and shade like she’s beautiful and he’s a darkie. But it ends like the darkness is..
Student: “The sun must have its shade..
AG: ..”Till both at once do fade” 

[Audio for the above may be heard  here, beginning at approximately fifteen-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-six-and-a-half minutes in]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *