Fantasia on a harbour
Becalmed upon the sea of Thought,
Still unattained the land it sought,
My mind, with loosely-hanging sails,
Lies waiting the auspicious gales.
On either side, behind, before,
The ocean stretches like a floor,—
A level floor of amethyst,
Crowned by a golden dome of mist.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
The harbour conjures images of safety amidst a time of lull: a ship protected against the elements. Yet, it is also a time for a ship to refuel and allow goods to be exchanged before the journey resumes. I imagine that the mind at rest is simply a time to restock before one begins the next activity that occupies the mental bandwidth. This work is largely in ternary form, with the opening melody transiting into a somewhat rhapsodic section with melodic material from two other boat songs of Scotland – Skye and Iona, and returning to the main theme with an added voice.
I thank Jeremy Wan, Lanfine Organ Scholar at the University of Glasgow, for giving this work its premiere at the Choral Contemplations concert on 14 February 2023.