Speak Love

Price: $10.95
by Frank A. Wallace
seven songs on the joys and sorrows of love; for medium voice and guitar, op. 34

Lyrics: poetry by Henriette de Saussure Blanding (1911)

Written in:  March, 2005

Duration: 17 minutes; 16 pages

Instrumentation:  medium voice and classical guitar

Vocal range:  G#2 – F#4 or oct. higher

Difficulty level:  moderate for both parts

World premiere:  April, 2005 at various venues in Germany by Frank Wallace

Recording:  The Great Deep by Duo LiveOak on Gyre, 1/11/11

Preview:  a sample PDF of Speak Love, includes one free song

Speak Love as performed by Duo LiveOak on Gyre CD The Great Deep

This song-cycle was conceived at an overnight stay at guitar scholar Thomas Heck’s home in Santa Barbara in March, 2005. Speak Love is set to hauntingly beautiful love poems by Henriette de Saussure Blanding (1891-1973). Frank “fell in love” with Henriette, Anne Heck’s grandmother, and her passionate poetry from 1911. She wrote the poems while still a teenager, he composed the first five songs within two weeks and debuted the cycle only a month later while on tour in Germany. Two songs were added in the summer of 2005. It is dedicated to various couples of the American guitar world including The Hecks, The Longs and The Danners.

Gyre Publications
Copyright ©2005 Frank A. Wallace
Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles
All rights reserved.

Speak Love (2005)
Poems by Henriette de Saussure Blanding
used by permission of the family

Were I a bird I would wing to thee
Were I a lark I would sing to thee
Were I a star I would shine for thee
Were I a lover I’d pine for thee.

Were I the breeze I would blow for thee,
Were I the rose I would grow for thee,
Were I a wave I would break for thee,
Were I a heart I would ache for thee.

Were I the wind I would sigh for thee,
Were I a hero I’d die for thee,
None of these gifts can I give to thee,
Bid me, dear, only to live for thee.

Tonight I cannot see your eyes
Smile sweet in-to my own
The last faint ray of daylight dies
I sit in dark alone
Yet through yon stars that brightly shine
I know your heart is seeking mine.

Tonight I cannot hear your call
Across the deadening years
That rise between a giant wall
That yields not to my fears.
Yet in the sobbing of the sea
I know your spirit speaks to me.

Tonight I may not feel the touch
Of clinging fingertips
Tonight my heart yearns over much
With hungering for your lips
Yet love may bid time backward roll
This hour I clasp you soul to soul.

What light may e’er relieve the gloom
Through which men blindly grope?
I looked into your eyes, my sweet,
And found that light was Hope.

What power of men or e’en of gods
May rend the bonds of death?
I looked into your heart, my sweet,
And felt that power was Faith.

What truth may lift our sordid lives
From earth to heaven above?
I looked into your soul, my sweet,
And knew that truth was Love.

Death in Life
If while your love were still my very own,
Cold Death had laid his hand upon your heart,
I would have bowed my head and made no moan,
Scorning a power too weak our souls to part.

I would have longed for voice and lips and hands,
Yet with the wanderingnight winds from the sea,
Our souls had still embraced in mystic lands,
Known only to Love’s holy sympathy.

Such sacred grief were blessedness…Tonight
Mine is the anguish of a different lot:
To know your lips as sweet, your eyes as bright,
And, searching for your soul— to find it not!

When I was but a child and knew not pain,
One day you clasped me closely to your breast,
And on my cheek your lips convulsive pressed,
While o’er my face the hot tears fell like rain.

That hour was long ago, Then why today
When years have given me my rightful part
In the soul’s sorrow, [Why, Why] do you close your heart
To love, and smiling, turn your face away?

We spoke no word, nor did we look again
At one another. Down yon purple steeps
The glow of evening faded; from the deeps
Uprose the sullen roaring of the main.
A sudden wind swept o’er the misty plain,
Then⎯silence and the stars; and lo, a cry,
Voiceless, as a soul in agony,
Rang through the stillness, while our hearts with pain
Throbbed wildly through the darkness, as a clod
Roused by Spring’s life; then⎯nothing.
Though no word
We spoke, nor looked again, [at one another] we silent heard
Through all our being ring the voice of God.

I strayed alone through realms of night,
And waiting hopeless for the dawn,
I thought before the break of morn
To see afar a beam of light⎯
And lo, the star I thought to rise,
I found your eyes.

I wandered through a sunless land
Along the copper streakèd sea
That hurled itself in mastery
Across life’s barren waste of sand,
And as I longed for Spring the while,
I found your smile.

I gazed into the jaws of Hell
And there I read that sin and shame
Are life’s true masters, and the name
Of friendship false⎯my idols fell,
But when I fain would curse life’s whole,
I found your soul.

Review by David Isaacs in Soundboard Vol 40, No. 1

This collection of seven love songs, a setting of the poetry of Henriette de Saussure Blanding, grandmother to guitarist Thomas Heck’s wife, written from 1909 to 1910, is breathtaking and instantly engaging. From the opening melody of Were I a Bird, Frank Wallace captures the listener with his intriguing sense of beauty. He uses odd time signatures, arpeggio bursts, rhythmic themes, chromaticism, unmeasured passages, harmonics and tambours to bring
these words to life. No matter how intricate the tuplets or the time signatures, the melodies remain graceful and intensely expressive.

A couple of these songs are wonderful pieces to introduce young guitarists and singers to the idea of working together. The pieces work well individually, as smaller groups, or the entire collection could be presented in a little over fifteen minutes. The vocal range is G-sharp 2—F-sharp 4, or an octave higher at an intermediate level, and the guitar parts vary from simple to intermediate level playing. The presentation of the set is pristine, with fingerings and notes to guide preferred tempo changes. Recordings, samples and digital versions are available at: www.gyremusic.com –
David Isaacs