This is James’ own transcription of the original lute song, inspired by countertenor Alfred Deller’s interpretation of the piece. It captures Dowland’s exquisite melancholy and is an example of James’ mastery of the guitar’s singing qualities. James has long had a fascination with the fragility and beauty of the passing minute. It permeates his interpretative style. The poetry of Louis MacNeice was a constant companion at the time of this recording. Particularly his poem The Sunlight on the Garden.
Exiled forever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days, my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts, for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.