Grace and Stir: Three Poems of A. D. Hope
Text: A. D. Hope, Collected Poems, 1930-1970 (Angus & Robertson).
Premiere—1990, by Karen Clift and Barbara Brooks, Minneapolis, MN.
- As well as they can
- “With Thee conversing…”
- The Gateway
A. D. Hope (1907-2000) taught at Australia National University, establishing a reputation as his country’s foremost poet. He claimed poets like Chaucer and Browning as predecessors, poets interested less in startling images than in ordinary English. He is distinct in our time for his structured, iambic verse. The triptych begins in desperation, with images of a fish struggling on the line. But the musical language soon settles, and the tone becomes subjective as the similar postures of the “distracted” poet and the bereft lover are compared. “With Thee conversing…” (a paraphrase of Eve’s words to Adam in Milton’s Paradise Lost) brings the flow of conversation and growing intimacy. Hope is noted as a timeless poet of heterosexual eroticism, for poems like “The Gateway.” Soprano Karen Clift and pianist John Churchwell have given definitive performances of Grace and Stir since Karen gave the premiere in 1990 in Minnesota. The work is dedicated to these remarkable artists.
Grace and Stir was the first work I wrote after arriving in Minnesota in 1989. It’s difficult music, to be sure, but those who have performed it have found it expressive and rewarding.
P.S. The fourth movement of Soft Summer Airs, “Now the Heart Sings,” approaches “The Gateway” from the other side. It begins with the ending music and finishes with the opening flourish.