"Songs of the Roseland" is a song cycle of five songs to poems by Zofia Ilinska and Anne Ridler which celebrate the beautiful Roseland Peninsula in south west Cornwall.
The first song, to a poem by Zofia Ilinska, who lived for many years in nearby St Mawes, is about the mediaeval Church of St Just in Roseland and its waterside setting on St Just Pool.
Saint Just in Roseland - Zofia Ilinska
This is the place where the dead are moored
to everlasting buoys beside the boats.
The Creek is everywhere. The Church floats
like a seabird whose neck is the tower
Flight of the heron to Turnaware Bird country, boat country ...
This is the place where the boats are moored
Beside the Churchyard in green canvas dressed.
The dead sleep feet pointing East.
The seagull cries, voice wet and windy.
Growth - vegetation - stillness - beauty - Sea country, water country.
The Church is the Ark. I am Noah.
Here I would save the seabirds first. The Hill
leans back, dark green wide open never full,
although for centuries, layer on layer,
Cornishman, foreigner are laid here. Cormorant country, curlew country.
Patterns of lines assail me: the vertical
as the line of life: masts, trees, I
still vertical, perpendicular. Boats lie
like bodies of the dead: horizontal:
correct posture for sailing off to eternal time country. God country.
There is a Cornish legend that Jesus Christ may have visited this place
with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, who was a tin merchant. It is the
first really safe harbour at the western end of the English Channel. Not
long ago an ingot of tin from Roman times was found in the Pool,
evidence that there was a tin trade here two thousand years ago.
This year, however, the beautiful ancient Church is in dire need of repair
as its roof is near collapse. An Appeal has just been launched to raise
£350,000 and people are encouraged to contribute by buying a slate for
£10. For further information, please have a look at this site
The music is by Yvonne Fuller. The accompaniment is played by Dorothy Marshall,
recorded as a backing track and then sung to and recorded on minidisc.