Seascape Consider a wave Libretto by Bob Devereux


Reciter Here, in the full light of the sun,

Facing the great atlantic ocean,

An artist prepares to paint;

Evading all quaint romantic notions of his father's generation.

He needs no red sails,

No white whales,

No weepers at green windows,

No sad-eyed maids in widows' weeds,

No brave deeds of the deep;

Only his easel and his paints and the restless sea.

Soprano Where is the feeling in you

That helps you know the way it is to be the ocean?

Ev'ry small wave that breaks,

Does not wait for you to fix its form.

Men All at sea.

Reciter This is reality ...

Soprano This is reality:

I am restless,

I am ever changing.

Ladies All at sea.


Baritone Consider a wave ....

Reciter Consider a wave as it moves towards the shore;

The falling water imprisons air,

A surge of foam, and then it's no more.

Chorus All at sea, all at sea.

Baritone Consider as they move towards the shore;

Each wave the shadow of another wave -

Each wave another shadow.

Soprano Consider me, oh, consider me;

Dragged by a yellowing moon

From low tide to high tide;

Driven by winds,

Ridden by men and porpoises.

But I will be free.


Baritone All her percussion

Comes rushing in in whiteness.

Gulls' cries, salt scales,

The flashing tails of fishes.

Each charging wave skies heavenwards on impact.

A tow'ring pegasus of flying spray

Held briefly in rainbows.

Soprano You have a keen eye,

And I know it is your destiny to paint me so.

If you wait, only wait,

I will let you see clear through me,

Clean through to my green heart.

I am no lady ....


Men I leave my lace petticoats in tatters on the shore.

Some dancing days I have been as loving as the town whore.

I have made gentle drums of all the boat bottoms in the bay,

And the bigger boys come running to play.

Soprano Oh, they were never shy with me.

Men For I was brazen, and they were bold then,

As they somersaulted and vaulted

All naked, golden, unashamed,

Knowing they did no harm.

And then they came leaping, laughing,

Into my waiting arms.

Soprano Oh, they were never shy with me.


Soprano & In squall and high wind

Baritone They've followed their calling,

Our boys.

And how many men have been drowned?

And how many boats have gone down?

All lost in the trumpeting sea.

Lost with all hands.

Chorus Where are the crew of the 'Mystery'?

Lost for eternity.

Where is poor James?

Drowned in his thigh boots.

Baritone Face up he floated aongst the bladderwrack,

With the green weed in his hair,

And all his life span floating before him;

Reciter ... only twenty years.

Baritone And all his lover's tears,

And all his mother's tears,

Will not bring him back.

Chorus Each wave the shadow of another wave,

The shadow of a ghost that went before.

Baritone Consider as they move towards the shore;

Baritone Each wave the shadow of another wave -

& Chorus Each wave another shadow.

Ladies Where are the 'Jane' and the 'Captain Peter'?

Where's the 'Grace Darling'?

Reciter Smashed on the shore.

Men Where are the 'Joyce' and the good gig 'Jabez'?

Reciter Nobody speaks of them any more.

Baritone The 'Fortitude', the 'Maggie', the 'Lily John'?

Chorus Gone ... Gone ... Gone.

Soprano I have drowned men.


Bob Deveruex 1980