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In the Gloaming — a Tuesday poem

Today's poem was written by Meta Orred, active as a poet in England in the 1870s and 1880s. Entitled "In the Gloaming," it comes from Orred's book, entitled simply Poems. The words were set to a tune "in the Irish style" by Annie Fortescue Harrison, later Lady Hill. The words were first published in 1874, and the song was tremendously popular in the United States in 1877. The poem is cross-rhymed (ABAB CBCB) and in a hymn metre (8-7-8-7). I think the words themselves are lovely, particularly if read aloud (and somewhat slowly). But they are lovelier still when sung to the tune Harrison wrote.

Whether Miss Orred knew the story of the composer's life or not, the facts are (purportedly), that Annie Fortescue Harrison, daughter of a Scottish MP, had been in love with Lord Arthur Hill (County Down, Ireland), but the marriage was frowned upon by his family. Miss Harrison went to England and became a composer, writing the music to this song (as well as instrumentals and musicals). Lord Hill married another woman named Anne, who died the following year. A few years later, at a concert in England, he heard this song performed and the lyrics and tune strongly reminded him of his lost love, so he tracked her down and reader, he married her.

In the Gloaming
by Meta Orred

In the gloaming*, oh, my darling!
When the lights are dim and low,
And the quiet shadows falling,
Softly come and softly go;

When the winds are sobbing faintly
With a gentle unknown woe,
Will you think of me, and love me,
As you did once long ago?

In the gloaming, oh, my darling!
Think not bitterly of me!
Tho' I passed away in silence
Left you lonely, set you free;

For my heart was crush'd with longing,
What had been could never be;
It was best to leave you thus, dear,
Best for you, and best for me.

*gloaming is the twilight that occurs at dusk and dawn; I'm reminded of Yeats's line about "The blue and the dim and the dark cloths/Of night and light and the half-light"

I went to YouTube hoping to find a link to my favorite version of this song, done by Jonatha Brooke and Jennifer Kimball (performing as "The Story"), and behold, I found these two high school girls (Jackie Haggerty and Felicia Chen) singing Brooke's version of this song a capella. Grab a Kleenex. You've been warned.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
They are beautiful.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
I think so, too.
Mar. 18th, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC)
cool poem!
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you agree!
Mar. 18th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, lovely lovely lovely.
Softly come and softly go...
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
"Think not bitterly of me"

I just adore the words. And the tune is so haunting and glorious.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Beats the pants off of "twilight", I think.
Mar. 18th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
Gloaming is one of my very favorite words, and I've yet to use it in a story because I'm waiting for the exact right place. :)
Lovely poem, lovely song, thanks for sharing.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Oh! That was beautiful. I didn't think I would cry. But I was wrong.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
I have the song by Jonatha Brooke--if you don't have it already, I could email it to you if you give me your address.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
It's on The Story album, The Angel in the House, (another song that I love off that title), which I have. I just couldn't find a free link to it online.

Edited at 2008-03-18 05:57 pm (UTC)
Mar. 18th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
Well, those gals did a great job of it.
Mar. 18th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting the poem and video, Kelly. So gorgeous... or as my grandmother used to say, "grand altogether!"
Mar. 18th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
Re: gorgeous!
I love your grandmother's phrase.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
There are so many individual gems among those lines. I really love the wistfulness and yearning of "will you think of me and love me, as you did once long ago" (typed from memory while mentally singing the song, and therefore it may differ from the precise wording or punctuation in the poem).
Apr. 3rd, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
O.My.God. That song by The Story is one of my favorites ever. Do you know that on Jonatha Brooke's live CD that is sung (with someone other than Jennifer), the closing track? It brings me to tears every time.

Jules, 7-Imp
Apr. 3rd, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
I love that song in all its guises, and it brings me to tears as well.
Jun. 7th, 2013 01:25 pm (UTC)
just saw and heard this tune on an old movie
Love this tune. Wish there were many more like it.
Douglas Bruce
Mar. 22nd, 2016 09:56 pm (UTC)
in a hymn metre (8-7-8-7).
This means that the words could be sung to any of the extant tunes to "Love Divine, all loves excelling", or to Beethoven's tune in the last movement of his Choral Symphony (No. 9). Or, for that matter, to the tune of Ave Verum by Mozart, or even that of Elgar, which latter I somehow prefer, as it was written almost contemporaneously to "In the Gloaming" and has much in common both in style and colouring
Mar. 23rd, 2016 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: in a hymn metre (8-7-8-7).
Now I'm singing it to "Love divine, all loves excelling" and to Beethoven's 9th and you are very right. It's like singing Emily Dickinson's works to The Yellow Rose of Texas, Amazing Grace, or the theme song from Gilligan's Island. (Singing Amazing Grace's words to Gilligan, or vice versa, is much fun.)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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