Why Linden Lea?

Why have I called my company Linden Lea? Read the lyrics of William Barnes’ poem and listen to the Vaughan Williams’ setting.

“With fruit for me, the apple tree

Do lean down low in Linden Lea”

I learnt the poem from my grandfather, who became a socialist after meeting C.R. Ashbee, a leading light of the Arts and Crafts movement.  Barnes seems to be speaking from the same standpoint as William Morris: his belief in the value of individual rather than the organisation, the craftsman as artist rather than the mass-produced is implicit.

I made the decision described in the final stanza long ago.  It’s a choice we all face – making easy money in “dark-roomed towns” or living a life of freedom from “a peevish master”.   It’s interesting that recent research indicates that for most of us, this is the future – but more of that in my next blog.

The musical setting is interesting.  Pauline tells me it is in G major which means the melody line can be both soaring and brooding, echoing the references to the natural world in the poem.  This song challenges singers because the highest notes are those that are held the longest.  It’s one of those songs that seem very simple – you can find heaps of versions on the net, but not many of them are sung well, especially the solo versions.  There are a couple of choirs who sing it well, but the only soloists who do so are the professionals.

Hendon choir is pretty good:


And so is this Japanese high school choir:


William Barnes was from Dorset, and spent most of his life there.  I suppose I like his poem because of my love for the work of Thomas Hardy.  The poem was originally written in dialect: http://people.bath.ac.uk/mlscdw/l_lea.htm and evokes feelings linked to the turning seasons, and the human lifespan.   It is a reaction against the industrial revolution, pre-figuring Fritz Lang’s Metropolis – but offers the reader a different road…..