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Lament of the Poets

Seán Doherty (b. 1987)

Seán Doherty

Seán Doherty

Composer
Seán Doherty (b. 1987)
Composition Year
2016
Work Movements
1. The Tidings, Easter 1916
2. Sojourn in the Whale
3. Lament for the Poets 1916
Artists
Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe [violins] Simon Aspell [viola] Christopher Marwood [cello]), Caroline Melzer [voice]

Programme Note Writer:
© Seán Doherty

This work is collection of three contemporaneous responses to the Easter Rising, imagined as an interconnected Aisling or dream — a genre of political poem in which the poet, asleep, sees a vision of a beautiful young woman, who represents Ireland. She tells the poet of her sadness at being repressed by foreigners and seeks the poet’s help to free the country. In this modern aisling, the allegorical spéirbhean (sky-woman) embodies the fierce spirit of the radical revolutionary poet Lola Ridge, who only laments that she is not in Dublin to mount the barricades.

 In her Sojourn in the Whale, Marianne Moore tells Ireland that the injustice and indignities she suffered and suffers are unbearable; Ireland has passed the point of no return by entering the belly of the beast.

In his Lament for the Poets, Francis Ledwidge sees the spéirbhean in her incarnation as the sean-bhean bhocht (the poor old woman), mourning the loss of her blackbirds - in particular, Ledwidge’s friend and fellow poet, Thomas MacDonagh – caught by the fowler. Their loss is lamented by Ireland in her lowliest guise.

I have used the traditional Irish slow air The Lament for Staker Wallace in the final movement. Patrick ‘Staker’ Wallace was an Irish freedom fighter, brutally executed for pro-independence activities in 1798, who gained his moniker posthumously, when his decapitated head was hoisted onto a stake to discourage further insurrection. As the original lyrics of this air are long since lost, Lament for the Poets serves as a contrafactum. 

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Lament of the Poets

Composer: Seán Doherty (b. 1987)
Performance date: Saturday 2nd July 2016
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Seán Doherty (b. 1987)
Work Title Lament of the Poets
Composition Year 2016
Work Movements 1. The Tidings, Easter 1916
2. Sojourn in the Whale
3. Lament for the Poets 1916
Artist(s) Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe [violins] Simon Aspell [viola] Christopher Marwood [cello]), Caroline Melzer [voice]
Performance Date Saturday 2nd July 2016
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:24:17
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Quintet
Instrumentation S-solo, 2vn,va, vc
Premiere World Premiere
Programme Note Writer © Seán Doherty

This work is collection of three contemporaneous responses to the Easter Rising, imagined as an interconnected Aisling or dream — a genre of political poem in which the poet, asleep, sees a vision of a beautiful young woman, who represents Ireland. She tells the poet of her sadness at being repressed by foreigners and seeks the poet’s help to free the country. In this modern aisling, the allegorical spéirbhean (sky-woman) embodies the fierce spirit of the radical revolutionary poet Lola Ridge, who only laments that she is not in Dublin to mount the barricades.

 In her Sojourn in the Whale, Marianne Moore tells Ireland that the injustice and indignities she suffered and suffers are unbearable; Ireland has passed the point of no return by entering the belly of the beast.

In his Lament for the Poets, Francis Ledwidge sees the spéirbhean in her incarnation as the sean-bhean bhocht (the poor old woman), mourning the loss of her blackbirds - in particular, Ledwidge’s friend and fellow poet, Thomas MacDonagh – caught by the fowler. Their loss is lamented by Ireland in her lowliest guise.

I have used the traditional Irish slow air The Lament for Staker Wallace in the final movement. Patrick ‘Staker’ Wallace was an Irish freedom fighter, brutally executed for pro-independence activities in 1798, who gained his moniker posthumously, when his decapitated head was hoisted onto a stake to discourage further insurrection. As the original lyrics of this air are long since lost, Lament for the Poets serves as a contrafactum.