Four Sonnets of Shakespeare (1978)

I. Or I shall live your epitaph to make  (3:20)

II. When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced (2:30)

III. Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore  (2:50)

IV. That time of year thou mayst in me behold  (3:35)

available from the composer

duration ca. 12:15

 

Instrumentation

bass-baritone and piano

I. Or I shall live your epitaph to make
(Sonnet 81) 
Or I shall live your epitaph to make, 
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten, 
From hence your memory death cannot take, 
Although in me each part will be forgotten. 
Your name from hence immortal life shall have, 
Though I (once gone) to all the world must die, 
The earth can yield me but a common grave, 
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie, 
Your monument shall be my gentle verse, 
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read, 
And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse, 
When all the breathers of this world are dead, 
You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen) 
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

II. When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
(Sonnet 64) 
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age, 
When sometime lofty towers I see down-rased, 
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage. 
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain 
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore, 
And the firm soil win of the watery main, 
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store. 
When I have seen such interchange of state, 
Or state itself confounded, to decay, 
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That time will come and take my love away. 
This thought is as a death which cannot choose
But weep to have, that which it fears to lose.

III. Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore
(Sonnet 60) 
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, 
So do our minutes hasten to their end, 
Each changing place with that which goes before, 
In sequent toil all forwards do contend. 
Nativity once in the main of light, 
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned, 
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight, 
And Time that gave, doth now his gift confound. 
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth, 
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow, 
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth, 
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow. 
And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

IV. That time of year thou mayst in me behold
(Sonnet 73) 
That time of year thou mayst in me behold, 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by and by black night doth take away, 
Death's second self that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire, 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire, 
Consumed with that which it was nourished by. 
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, 
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

Four Sonnets of Shakespeare was premiered by them on March 26, 1982 by Gordon Rose, bass-baritone, and Stuart Hille, piano, at the  University of Pennsylvania.

Christopher Coleman

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