kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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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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Tags: orred, poetry, songs

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