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Journey

Lyrics Based on Shakespeare Sonnet 27

Music by Charles Wolff

Real Audio Clip


Shakespeare's Text

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.

Research Notes

[Wilson74:184] writes: "[Sonnets 27 and 28] deal with another commonplace, the absent lover who cannot sleep, or if he sleeps, dreams of his love. He can find no rest or happiness apart from his mistress whether awake or asleep..."

[Wilson65:128] "The first of a pair of sonnets describing in simple and vivid language the reality of the journey so hopefully introduced in 26. The pessimistic tone together with the allusions to his 'outcast state' suggest that the Poet may have been forced to go on tour in the country owing to the closing of the theatre because of the plague, the hostility of a puritan mayor and corporation, or... the disapprobation of the government. The impression that 27 and 28 seem to convey is one of solitude and post-haste speed, neither suggestive of a company of players trudging along the muddy roads of Elizabethan England. All the sonnets tell us is that he had fallen into some kind of trouble which compelled him to leave London, or at any rate the neighborhood of his friend, and that he hoped to return eventually 'in happy plight.'"

My Interpretation

I chose this sonnet because it dealt with loneliness due to separation - many a songwriter's favorite theme. All the nighttime and dream imagery appealed to me as well, and suggested a feeling that would work well with a blues or jazz style of music.

Musical Style Considerations

During the recording process, I realized that five "verses" with the same melody and chords, plus interspersed instrumental verses, was going to get pretty repetitive, so I ended up writing a "bridge" melody, with a different set of chords, for the third verse; this provided some variety in the song.

Lyrical Adaptation

The adaptation of this lyric began by "extracting" five rhyming couplets from the original sonnet, changing the phrasing where necessary. For example, the first couplet was: "Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed / [ and ] then begins a journey in my head." In the final recording, this was rephrased as: "From weary toil, I climb into my bed / and there begins a journey in my head." Musically, I ended up singing the first line three times rather than the two times in the "blues sonnet" form.

The third "verse" used "Presents your shadow to my sightless view" as the second line of a rhyming couplet and pretty much invented a new first line. The final couplet of the sonnet was used as the fifth couplet of the song.

Among other minor wording changes, "ghastly" in the sonnet became "ghostly."

Iambic Pentameter Musical Setting

I used the "blues sonnet" form (or a variation on it) for this song; in this form, the standard phrasing of iambic pentameter lines is pretty much preserved.

Adapted Song Lyric

Journey

adaptation and music Copyright 1998 Charles Wolff

From weary toil, I climb into my bed.
From weary toil, I climb into my bed.
From weary toil, I climb into my bed
And there begins a journey in my head;
In my head.

For then my thoughts fly to where you abide,
For then my thoughts fly to where you abide,
For then my thoughts fly to where you abide,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Open wide.

The night is dark, but something filters through.
Presents your shadow to my sightless view.

And like a jewel, hung in ghostly night.
And like a jewel, hung in ghostly night.
And like a jewel, hung in ghostly night,
Your face from distant past comes into sight,
Into sight.

And so by day my limbs, by night my mind,
And so by day my limbs, by night my mind,
And so by day my limbs, by night my mind,
From thee and for myself no quiet find,
No quiet find.

Real Audio Clip


Maintained by: Charles Wolff
Last Updated: 6/5/98