12. The Lake Isle of Innisfree
Text: poem by William Butler Yeats (1893):
Musicians: Piano; T, A, & S solos; SATB chorus.
Length: 5 minutes.
Program notes: As Yeats wrote in Four Years, he had seriously contemplated the idea of imitating Thoreau and living alone on an island. His sudden recall of this island while standing in a city street led to this poem, which was one of the first in which he loosened his meter and began to find his own voice. For many readers, it also works as a metaphor: for the hope of finding some "island" of peace and contentment in this life, before leaving it. I hope this choral setting, with several soloists rather than one, will heighten that universality. Each of the 3 stanzas has its own mood, which is why I change the time signature from 3/4 to 2/2 to 5/4, and transform the melody and harmony in each.
Performance suggestion: Sing without vibrato.
Innisfree, Lough Gill, County Sligo
Kenneth Allen, 2008
Glendalough Upper Lake, County Wicklow
portrait of young William Butler Yeats
by his father John Butler Yeats, 1900