Satires of Circumstance

Song Cycle by Betty Roe (b. 1930)

1. At a Watering Place [sung text checked 1 time]

They sit and smoke on the esplanade,
The man and his friend, and regard the bay
Where the far chalk cliffs, to the left displayed,
Smile sallowly in the decline of day.
And saunterer's pass with laugh and jest --
A handsome couple among the rest.

'That smart proud pair,' says the man to his friend,
'Are to marry next week.... How little he thinks
That dozens of days and nights on end
I have stroked her neck, unhooked the links
Of her sleeve to get at her upper arm....
Well, bliss is in ignorance: what's the harm!'

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

2. Outside the Window [sung text checked 1 time]

"My stick!" he says, and turns in the lane
To the house just left, whence a vixen voice
Comes out with the firelight through the pane,
And he sees within that the girl of his choice
Stands rating her mother with eyes aglare
For something said while he was there.

"At last I behold her soul undraped!"
Thinks the man who had loved her more than himself;
"My God--'tis but narrowly I have escaped. -
My precious porcelain proves it delf."
His face has reddened like one ashamed,
And he steals off, leaving his stick unclaimed.

Authorship:

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. In the Restaurant [sung text checked 1 time]

'But hear. If you stay, and the child be born,
It will pass as your husband's with the rest,
While, if we fly, the teeth of scorn
Will be gleaming at us from east to west;
And the child will come as a life despised;
I feel an elopement is ill-advised!'

'O you realise not what it is, my dear,
To a woman! Daily and hourly alarms
Lest the truth should out. How can I stay here
And nightly take him into my arms!
Come to the child no name or fame,
Let us go, and face it, and bear the shame.'

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

4. By her Aunt's Grave [sung text checked 1 time]

"Sixpence a week," says the girl to her lover,
"Aunt used to bring me, for she could confide
In me alone, she vowed. 'Twas to cover
The cost of her headstone when she died.
And that was a year ago last June;
I've not yet fixed it. But I must soon."

"And where is the money now, my dear?"
"O, snug in my purse . . . Aunt was SO slow
In saving it--eighty weeks, or near." . . .
"Let's spend it," he hints. "For she won't know.
There's a dance to-night at the Load of Hay."
She passively nods. And they go that way.

Authorship:

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First published in Fortnightly Review, April 1911

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. At the Altar-rail [sung text checked 1 time]

'My bride is not coming, alas!' says the groom,
And the telegram shakes in his hand. 'I own
It was hurried! We met at a dancing-room
When I went to the Cattle-Show alone,
And then, next night, where the Fountain leaps,
And the Street of the Quarter-Circle sweeps.

'Ay, she won me to ask her to be my wife --
'Twas foolish perhaps! -- to forsake the ways
Of the flaring town for a farmer's life.
She agreed. And we fixed it. Now she says:
"It's sweet of you, dear, to prepare me a nest,
But a swift, short, gay life suits me best.
What I really am you have never gleaned;
I had eaten the apple ere you were weaned."'

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

6. In the Moonlight [sung text checked 1 time]

'O lonely workman, standing there
In a dream, why do you stare and stare
At her grave, as no other grave there were?

'If your great gaunt eyes so importune
Her soul by the shine of this corpse-cold moon
Maybe you'll raise her phantom soon!'

'Why, fool, it is what I would rather see
Than all the living folk there be;
But alas, there is no such joy for me!'

'Ah -- she was one you loved, no doubt,
Through good and evil, through rain and drought,
And when she passed, all your sun went out?

'Nay: she was the woman I did not love,
Whom all the others were ranked above,
Whom during her life I thought nothing of.'

Authorship:

Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]
Total word count: 639