Description by Rodney Rawlings: Performed by mezzosoprano Sandra Flores-Strand with pianist John Massaro in rehearsal for Voices of Vienna concert of April 13, 2018, in Fountain Hills, Arizona. A video of the concert is expected to become available soon. This song is in tribute, and counsel, to those adventurers who push out the boundaries of our one and irreplaceable existence.
Watch an earlier performance of “To Venus and Mars” by soprano Amanda Noelle Neal here.
“TO VENUS AND MARS”
While children down here in the fields
Catch fireflies in jars,
So grown men chase evening light …
… To Venus and Mars
Someday a brave man will go–
Someone who can bear to be launched
And leave us below.
But deep in the sky
He will lose sight of the earth
Ere catching that one final glimpse–
Stuff of memoirs–
Knowing he’s bound on a course
To Venus and Mars.
Now he must seek higher realms instead.
It was time for those last looks to end.
Echoes remind him of what they said
When he first heard their call to ascend:
“Do you find most of this globe absurd,
“With its throngs, restless passions, and tears?
“This world is vain, as we’ve often heard.
“Do you long for a mission that’s one-way
“To Venus and Mars– to Venus and Mars–?”
Near Venus and Mars
Yet might he grow ill at ease
To gaze on them–visions of Earth
Taint all that he sees?
This trav’ler may soon
Dream he will one day return–
To mingle on streets full of life,
To chase falling stars
And quite serenely look up to Venus and Mars.
(Spoken:) And quite serenely look up
(Sung:) to Venus and Mars.
The Rational Argumentator is pleased to feature the most current arrangement of Rodney Rawlings’s musical adaptation of lyrics from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s 1847 poem, The Princess. This is a piano rendition, following up on Mr. Rawlings’s 2004 version of this piece for string orchestra.
Composer’s Description: In the link below I present a piano rendition of my song “Come Down, O Maid.”
The song is my musical setting of a Tennyson lyric that appears in his long poem The Princess (1847). Those much-loved verses, which I have presented at the very bottom of this post, have been described as “a summons to the valleys of domestic affection, away from the heights of idealism and abstraction.”
MP3 file for piano rendition (left-click to listen, right-click to download):“Come Down, O Maid”
If the reader is looking at my lyrics here while listening, it should be borne in mind that, because the vocal part is also represented by a piano sound, in a couple of sections it is harder to distinguish the two aurally:
Away below the frozen mountain
Deep in the valley was a shepherd,
And he sang:
Come down, O maid, come from yonder mountain:
What pleasure lives in height and cold? Come down, and cease
To sit a star on the sparkling spire.
Love is of the valley, O come thou down
And find him there,
Hand in hand with Plenty;
Nor cares for Death and Morning on the silver horns,
Nor firths of ice, furrow-cloven falls;
Let them dance thee do-own
To find him there.
(Transitional musical passage)
O maid, come down;
Leave the monstrous ledges
To spill their wreaths
That like a broken purpose waste:
So waste not thou;
All the vales await thee-ee;
Azure pillars arise to thee.
My shepherd pipe, children too, are calling,
Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;
The rivulets so clear hur’ying through the la-awn,