Paul Max EdlinComposer | Artistic Director | Lecturer | Performer

2013 (appx. 10’)
Two songs for mezzo-soprano and piano
settings of poems by Henri de Régnier in translations by the composer
Commissioned by Sarah Connolly

The Voice

I want no one near my sadness
Not even your dear step and loved face,
Not your idle hand whose finger caresses
The lazy ribbon and the closed book.

Leave me be. Today my door remains closed;
Do not open my window to the cool breeze of morning;
For today my heart is all misery and is sullen,
And everything seems dark to me and all seems futile.

My sadness comes from beyond myself,
It is foreign to me and is not of me,
And man, whether he sings or laughs or loves,
In his time, hears that which speaks low to him.

And something then stirs and awakes,
Twitches, swells and moans within him,
Because of this soft voice which whispers in his ear
The flower of life is but ashes in its fruit.


Let me show your eyes the plains
And a forest all green and ruddy,
Far away and soft
Under clear skies on the horizon,
Or some hills
With lovely slopes
All changing, lithe and misty,
Seeming to melt in the sweetness of air,
Either hills
Or forest.
I want
You to hear
Strong, vast, deep, and tender,
The great dull voice of the sea
That moans
Like love;
And once in a while
Right next to you,
In the break of time,
I’d like you to hear
Right next to you
A dove
In the silence
Both soft and fragile
Like love hidden in the shadows,
I’d like you to hear
The gushing of a spring
For your hands I’d like some flowers,
And for your steps
A little path, grassy and sandy
Rising then coming down,
Turning and seeming
To approach the limits of silence.
A tiny sandy path
Where your steps would leave faint marks,
Our steps

Programme Note:

These two songs were written at the request of as well as for my dear friend, the renowned singer Sarah Connolly CBE.  Sarah knows me well and when I asked her if she had a poem she wanted me to set, she came up with Henri de Régnier’s ‘The Voice’.  What an inspired choice!  Of course, Sarah knew what these words would mean to me as she was well aware of the machinations life can bring at particular times.  Yet ‘The Voice’ is a sad poem and I wanted to write something that expressed the beauty of life.  I found in Régnier’s work an exquisite poem called ‘Wish’, and so this seemed an ideal partner.  One in which the sorrows of life are transformed into the gentleness of what the human spirit can think of when either surrounded by goodness or when capable of looking beyond current circumstances to a better place.

Perusal score available on request

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