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She Walks in Beauty

She Walks in Beauty (2015) is a lute song for Catherine Fern Lewis in celebration of her sixtieth birthday. It was written for her and lutenist Douglas Hensley, who first performed the piece. I started it during my 2014 Djerassi artist residency, Woodside, California, high in the Santa Cruz mountains, amidst "cloudless climes and starry skies". Text is by Lord Byron, 1788-1824. There is also a version for lower voice from 2016, adapted for countertenor Reggie Mobley.

 

Premiere:
20 November 2015, Wood Hall, Victoria, British Columbia
Catherine Fern Lewis; voice, Douglas Hensley; lute

She Walks in Beauty

by Lord Byron (George Gordon)

 

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes; 

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress, 

Or softly lightens o’er her face; 

Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 

The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 

But tell of days in goodness spent, 

A mind at peace with all below, 

A heart whose love is innocent!