Friday, 8 May 2009

Nymphs and Shepherds - Quintessentially English

Nymphs and shepherds, come away.
In the groves let's sport and play,
For this is Flora's holiday,
Sacred to ease and happy love,
To dancing, to music and to poetry;
Your flocks may now securely rove
Whilst you express your jollity.
Nymphs and shepherds, come away.

Henry Purcell's setting of Nymphs and Shepherds evokes in me a deep longing for the innocence of my childhood. We sang it at school and probably didn't really understand the words, but knew it was about something marvellous, carefree and out of doors. (It certainly wasn't the sort of bacchanalia that Poussin depicts above.) Listen to the Manchester Schools Children's Choir with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty from 1929. (The recording has been seamlessy transferred from one of the most famous of all 78 rpm discs. Please be patient with this You-Tube clip as the singing doesn't seem to start for ages.)

The words are by Thomas Shadwell (c. 1642 – 19 November 1692) an English poet and playwright who was appointed poet laureate in 1689.

Titian Flora

Poussin Bacchanal

Poussin The Arcadian Shepherds

Poussin The Dance to the Music of Time

Giorgione Nymphs and Children in a Landscape with Shepherds

Top image: Poussin Bacchanal before a statue of Pan

1 comment:

  1. Titian also painted Bacchus and Ariadne, which sounds like an upmarket firm of solicitors, and is the photoshopped cover for the Crash Test Dummies' 'God shuffled her feet'


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