Heard in a Violent Ward

Song Cycle by David Evan Thomas (b. 1958)

Word count: 629

1. In a Madhouse [sung text checked 1 time]

Subtitle: To James Hipkins (I)

Dear Sir, 
I [am in a Madhouse and]1 quite forget your Name 
or who you are You must excuse me [for]1 I have nothing 
to commu(n)icate [or tell of]1 and why I am shut up 
[I dont know]1 I have nothing [to say so]1 I conclude.

[Yours respectfully,]1
John Clare (To James Hipkins, 1860)

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)

Note: This is Clare's last extant letter. It is addressed to James Hipkins, 1860.

1 omitted by D. E. Thomas in the second setting.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. There is a charm in solitude that cheers [sung text checked 1 time]

There is a charm in Solitude that cheers
A feeling that the world knows nothing of
A green delight the wounded mind endears
After the hustling world is broken off
Whose whole delight was crime at good to scoff
Green solitude his prison pleasure yields
The bitch fox heeds him not-birds seem to laugh
He lives the Crusoe of his lonely fields
Which dark green oaks his noontide leisure shields

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Dave Evan Thomas

3. Byron's Funeral [sung text checked 1 time]

My eye was arrested by straggling groups of common people… 
The train of a funeral suddenly appeared on which a young 
girl that stood beside me gave a deep sigh and uttered “Poor 
Lord Byron.” I looked up in the young girl’s face; it was dark 
and beautiful, and I could almost feel in love with her… 
She had counted the carriages in her mind as they passed… 
sixty-three or -four in all. The gilt ones that led the 
procession were empty. I saw his remains born away on its 
last journey to that place where fame never comes; though 
it lives like a shadow and lingers like a sunbeam on his 
grave it cannot enter.

Authorship

Note: this is a prose text. The line breaks were added arbitrarily.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Enquiry [sung text checked 1 time]

Subtitle: To Charles Clare

My dear boy,

You told me to enquire about my old companions of my single days —

How is Thomas Porter — in my single days we loved books and flowers together.
And how is Tom Clare — we used to sit in the fields and sing capital songs —
”She is the darling of my life, and she lives in the alley…” — 
Capital songs over a bottle of beer!

How is old Otter the Fiddler? And old John Nottingham and his
wife Sally Frisby? Henry Snow and his wife and Robin Oliver 
and Jonathan Burbidge and his wife and daughter and Mary Buzley 
and old Mr. Buzley if alive for many are dead and some forgotten 
and Richard Royce and his wife and daughter? And Nottingham, 
old John Nottingham?

There is also Will Bloodworth and Tom and Sam Ward and John Fell and 
his wife and John King and Miss Large.

Mr. and Miss Bellars on the hill and John and Mrs. Bullimore 
the Village Schoolmistress and how is Charles Welsh and Robin 
Oliver? And John Nottingham.

And remember me kindly to all I have forgotten.

Authorship

Note: this is a prose text (a letter to Charles Clare); the line breaks have been added arbitrarily.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. I am [sung text not yet checked]

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish [in]1 oblivious host,
[Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost]2;
And yet I am, [and live with shadows tossed]3

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking [dreams]4,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
[But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest - that I loved the best -]5
Are strange - nay, [rather]6 stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod,
A place where woman never smiled or wept;
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
[Untroubling and untroubled where I lie]7, -
The grass below - above the vaulted sky.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Muhly: "an"
2 Muhly: "Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost"
3 Muhly: "- I live - though I am toss'd"
4 Muhly: "dream"
5 Muhly: "But the huge shipwreck of my own extreme and all that's dear./ Even those I loved the best"
6 Muhly: "they are"
7 Muhly: "Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

7. Conclusion [sung text checked 1 time]

Dear Sir, 
I [am in a Madhouse and]1 quite forget your Name 
or who you are You must excuse me [for]1 I have nothing 
to commu(n)icate [or tell of]1 and why I am shut up 
[I dont know]1 I have nothing [to say so]1 I conclude.

[Yours respectfully,]1
John Clare (To James Hipkins, 1860)

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)

Note: This is Clare's last extant letter. It is addressed to James Hipkins, 1860.

1 omitted by D. E. Thomas in the second setting.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]