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Beggered, Bewitched and Betrayed

Monday, March 29, 2021 at 7:30 PM
(This Cycle of Songs being designed for continuous performance, no pause should be made between the numbers)

The fathers of Maud and of the singer (the “I” of the songs) were close friends while the singer was a little boy, so close in fact that at the time of Maud’s birth they planned a match between the two children, who grew up as intimate playmates, until a crash came. “A vast speculation” failed; the boy’s father was beggared, while Maud’s father, his supposed friend, became a millionaire. Shortly afterwards the body of the ruined and desperate man was found in the “dreadful hollow behind the little wood,” in circumstances that pointed to suicide. The effect of this on his son, still a boy, is shown again and again throughout the poem, specially in the songs Nos. 1 and 6. At the beginning of the poem, Maud, who is now 16, has returned to the Hal after an absence of several years.

THE CYCLE

1. The sing expresses the horror he feels for “dreadful hollow” where his father’s body was found.
2. He hears Maud singing a battle song in the Hall garden. He tries to shut out the sound, but in the end is fascinated by the beauty of the voice.
3. He sees Maud in church; their eyes meet, and she blushes.
4. From that moment he is on fire for love of her
5. They meet in the wood
6. He goes out at dawn to Maud’s garden. The curtained house where she is sleeping suggests to his haunted mind the house of death.
7. Young love.
8. Young love.
9. There is dance at the Hall to which the lover is not invited. He stands in the garden listening to the music, and his excitement rises to ecstasy when he hears her coming to the appointed meeting place. (They are surprised by her brother who hates the lover, and strikes him in their quarrel. There follows a duel in the “dreadful hollow,” in which Maud’s brother is killed).
10. The lover flees the country, and during his absence…
11. He goes temporarily mad, and Maud dies.
12. He sings of his longing to hold her once more in his arms.
EPILOGUE. He sees her in a vision, when she speaks of “a hope for the world in the coming wars” (in the Crimea). The song ends with self-dedication to his country. He “embraces the purpose of God, and the doom assigned.”
- Arthur Somervell
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