43. Linden Lea

William Barnes's poem My Orcha'd In Lindèn Lea was set to music in 1901 by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). At the age of 29, Linden Lea was Vaughan Williams's first publication, marking the beginning of a long career that produced no less than nine symphonies, as well as countless other works.

William Barnes (1801 –1886) was an English writer, poet, Church of England minister, and philologist. He wrote over 800 poems, some in Dorset dialect, and much other work, including a comprehensive English grammar quoting from more than 70 different languages. He was a friend of Thomas Hardy, Lord Tennyson and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Ralph Vaughan Williams set to music four of Barnes' poems, 'My Orcha'd in Lindèn Lea', in the "Common English" version ("Linden Lea"), 'Blackmwore Maidens', in the "Common English" version ("Blackmwore by the Stour"), "The Winter's Willow", and "In the Spring".

Original Poem

'Ithin the woodlands, flow'ry gleaded,
By the woak tree's mossy moot,
The sheenen grass bleades, timber-sheaded,
Now do quiver under voot;
An' birds do whissle auver head,
An' water's bubblen in its bed,
An' ther vor me the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.
When leaves that leately wer a-springen
Now do feade 'ithin the copse,
An' painted birds do hush ther zingen
Up upon the timber's tops;
An' brown-leav'd fruit's a-turnen red,
In cloudless zunsheen, auver head,
Wi' fruit vor me the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.
Let other vo'k meake money vaster
In the air o' dark-room'd towns,
I don't dread a peevish measter;
Though noo man do heed my frowns,
I be free to goo abrode,
Or teake agean my hwomeward road
To where vor me the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.