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FANTASIA ON A THEME BY THOMAS TALLIS: Ralph Vaughan Williams

 

Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 – 1585)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958)             

 

Trees clutch night longest,

tugged darkly onto limbs like sleeves

until maroon bark thins to red, then

hammered gold, to shine in early stars

of sun through woodland canopy

 

A dark incised by grace that cuts

the true from idyll green, leaf by leaf

serrates the trees, the clouds: lost notes

intoned above a melody handed man

to man across the centuries

 

Hymn and pastoral, a morning song,

especially of birds that rise into the sky

like single notes of praise, sunder night

from day, from meditation on what has 

been to benediction for what is yet to be