This is Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal by Roger Quilter. The compositions of Quilter (1877-1953) are fast becoming favourites of mine. He is best known for his art songs and wrote more than a hundred; and was an influence on composers such as Peter Warlock. Much of his work is melancholic, which may have been a result of his disposition. His health was too fragile for him to enlist in the First World War and after the death of a nephew during World War II, he apparently descended into severe mental illness. He died a few days after his 75th birthday.
The song’s set to a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Here are the lyrics (if you want to sing along!):
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.
Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.
Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.
Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.
Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.
I love this You Tube version of this song, by English tenor Stephen Petch.
- Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal (heyremember.wordpress.com)
- Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal: Idealized Romance in Tennyson (hokku.wordpress.com)
- The Complete Quilter Songbook Vol 1 – review (guardian.co.uk)