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Thomas Hardy's Poetry in Song | Lewis Alpaugh | Scene4 Magazine  June 2017

Thomas Hardy’s Poetry in Song

Four of a set of twelve Hardy poems
set to music, composed and sung by

Lewis Alpaugh



‘Ah, are you digging on my grave,

     My loved one? – planting rue?’

‘No: yesterday he went to wed

One of the brightest wealth has bred.

“It cannot hurt her now,” he said,

     “That I should not be true.” ’


Then who is digging on my grave?

     My nearest dearest kin?’

‘Ah, no: they sit and think, “What use!

What good will planting flowers produce?

No tendance of her mound can loose

     Her spirit from Death’s gin.” ’


‘Then, who is digging on my grave?

     Say – since I have not guessed!”

‘O it is I, my mistress dear,

Your little dog, who still lives near,

And much I hope my movements here

      Have not disturbed your rest!’


‘Ah, yes! You dig upon my grave….

     Why flashed it not on me

That one true heart was left behind!

What feeling do we ever find

To equal among human kind

     A dog’s fidelity!’


‘Mistress, I dug upon your grave

    To bury a bone, in case (in case)

I should be hungry near this spot

When passing on my daily trot.

I am sorry, but I quite forgot

    It was your resting-place.’



Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave?


with Deborah Foster and violinist, Liz Gonzales





Sweet cider is a great thing,

   A great thing to me,

Spinning down to Weymouth town

   By Ridgway thirstily,

And maid and mistress summoning

   Who tend the hostelry:

O Cyder is a great thing,

   A great thing to me!


The dance it is a great thing,

   A great thing to me,

With candles lit and partners fit

   For night-long revelry;

And going home when day-dawning

   Peeps pale upon the lea:

O dancing is a great thing,

   A great thing to me!


Love, it is a great thing

   A great thing to me,

When having drawn across the lawn

   In darkness silently,

A figure flits like one a-wing

   Out from the nearest tree:

O love it is a great thing,

   A great thing to me!`


Will these be always great things,

  Great things to me?...

Let it befall that One will call,

  ‘Soul, I have need of thee:’

What then? Joy-jaunts, impassioned flings,

  Love and its ecstacy,

Will always have been great things,

  Great things to me!


Great Things






‘O Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!

Who could have supposed I should meet you in town!

And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?’ –

‘O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?’ said she.


You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,

Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;

And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!

‘Yes”: that’s how we dress when we’re ruined,’ said she.


At home in the barton you said “thee” and “thou”,

And “thik oon”, and “theas oon” and “t’other” but now

Your talking quite fits ’ee for high compa-ny!’ –

‘Some polish is gained when one’s ruined,’ said she.


‘Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak

But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,

And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!’ –

‘We never do work when we’re ruined,’ said she.


‘You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,

And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem

To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!’ –

‘True, One’s pretty lively when ruined,’ said she.


‘I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,

And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!’ –

‘My dear – a raw country girl, such as you be,

Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,’ said she.


The Ruined Maid






Dear Lizbie Brown,

Where are you now?

In sun, in rain?

Or is your brow

Past joy, past pain,

Dear Lizbie Brown?


Sweet Lizbie Brown,

How you could smile,

How you cold sing!-

How archly wile

In glance-giving,

Sweet Lizbie Brown!


And, Lizbie Brown,

Who else had hair

Bay-red as yours,

Or flesh so fair

Bred out of doors,

Sweet Lizbie Brown?


When, Lizbie Brown,

You had just begun

To be endeared

By stealth to one,

You disappeared

My Lizbie Brown!


Ay, Lizbie Brown,

So swift your life,

And mine so slow,

You were a wife

Ere I could show

Love, Lizbie Brown.


Still, Lizbie Brown,

You won, they said,

The best of men

When you were wed….

Where went you then,

O Lizbie Brown?


Dear Lizbie Brown,

I should have thought,

‘Girls ripen fast,’

And coaxed and caught

You ere you passed,

Dear Lizbie Brown!


But, Lizbie Brown,

I let you slip;

Shaped not a sign

Touched never your lip

With lip of mine,

Lost  Lizbie Brown!


So, Lizbie Brown,

When on a day

Men speak of me

As not, you’ll say,

‘And who was he?’ –

Yes, Lizbie Brown!


To Lizbie Brown


with violinist, Liz Gonzales


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Lewis Alpaugh has performed in genres that range from country and bluegrass to jazz and traditional Celtic music. His compositions have been performed and recorded by a variety of artists from Irish flautist, James Galway, to Nova Scotia’s Rankin Family, Florida’s Nature Coast Concert Band, and the San Francisco Bay Area’s Lowell Trio. He has co-authored a popular collection of Acadian folk songs and hosts the syndicated radio show, “Backroads” which features country and traditional music and interviews with well-known artists..

©2017 Songs, Lewis Alpaugh
©2017 Publication Scene4 Magazine



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