Frank E. Warren Music Service


Earnestly Music


SONGS AGAINST WAR: on text from Wilfred Owen
H. Kyle Siddons, baritone and Mark McNeill, piano
Longy School of Music 06 April 2011 Dur: ca. 10.5 min.
Written at request of D'Anna Fortunato, for her student, H. Kyle Siddons. Premiered at his graduate recital.
The story line is conceived by the composer by extracting excerpts directly from the poetry of Wilfred Owen.
Video of performance on YouTube

Selected text from the poetry of Wilfred Owen (1893 to 1918)
In the order used for the composition: Songs Against War, by Frank E. Warren

Wilfred Owen's Complete Poems and Fragments (including preface to manuscript), published by Chatto & Windus & OUP in 1983, and edited by Jon Stallworthy. Permission has been granted from all sources for use of the text in this composition.

1. from: The introduction to his unpublished manuscript

My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.
All a poet can do today is warn.

2. from: Apologia pro Poemate Meo (verse 1 and 2)

I, too, saw God through mud - -
 The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
 War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
 And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there - -
 Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
 For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
 Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.

3. from: The End

And when I hearken to the Earth, she saith:
‘My fiery heart sinks, aching. It is death.
Mine ancient scars shall not be glorified,
Nor my titanic tears, the seas, be dried.’

4. from: Apologia pro Poemate Meo (verse 7)

I have perceived much beauty
  In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
  Heard music in the silentness of duty;
  [I have] Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.

5. from: S. I. W.

It was the reasoned crisis of his soul
Against the fires that would not burn him whole
But kept him for death's perjury and scoff
And life's half-promising, and both their riling.

With him they buried the muzzle his teeth had kissed,
And truthfully wrote the Mother, ‘Tim died smiling.’

6. from: Apologia pro Poemate Meo (verse 9)

You shall not hear their mirth:
 You shall not come to think them well content
 By any jest of mine. These men are worth
 Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.

7. from: The introduction to his unpublished manuscript

... if the letter of this book would last,
I might have used proper names;
but if the Spirit of this book survives...
my ambition _ and these names _ will be content;
for they will have achieved themselves
fresher fields than Flanders.