work details

Songs of Youthful Love

  • Instrumentation: Version 1: medium voice and piano; Version 2: high voice and piano
  • Completed: August 2011
  • Duration: 11 minutes
  • Texts: Digby Mackworth Dolben (1848-1867), selected poems
  • Video:
    • Songs of Youthful Love - II: "Enough"

      Craig Allen, tenor and Jeremy Mims, piano

    • Songs of Youthful Love - III: "Sister Death"

      Craig Allen, tenor and Jeremy Mims, piano

  • Dedication:

    To Michael Walsh

  • Movement / Song Titles:
    1. We hurry on, nor passing note
    2. Enough
    3. Sister Death
    4. I said to my heart, 'I am tired—"
  • Program Note:

    These Songs of Youthful Love are written for and dedicated to Michael Walsh.

    Searching for excellent poetry to set is the never-ending task of a song composer. It is not simply the quality of verse that matters; one must find words that speak to one’s own experiences and situation. I was so delighted when I stumbled upon the youthful, aggressive, and exuberant works of Digby Mackworth Dolben. Living a very short life, Dolben died tragically from drowning at the age of nineteen. Yet even by this time, he was able to exert quite the influence on another famous poet of his generation: Gerard Manley Hopkins. According to Robert Bernard Martin— one of Hopkin’s biographers—their meeting was “quite simply, the most momentous emotional event of [Hopkins’s] undergraduate years, probably of his entire life.” Indeed, even Hopkins’ journal entries from the following year betray a subconscious erotic obsession with the four-year-younger Dolben. It is thanks to Dolben’s cousin, Robert Bridges—a poet laureate in his own right—, to whom we owe the posthumous publication of Dolben’s work. These poems, then, can be understood as the fertile expression of a youthful and boisterous soul, one whose own homoerotic thoughts and desire for intimacy with another man figure prominently in his poetic sensibility. I have endeavored to provide a spirited music to match their charm, at all times coy, playful, and utterly remarkable.

  • Performances:
    • February 8, 2013 (Premiere)
      Friday's at Four
      Craig Patrick Allen, tenor
      Whitman College - Kimball Hall - Walla Walla, WA