Image: Young man at beach at sunrise by Mohammad Ali Mohtasham. Unsplash: Photos for everyone.
This composition of “The Completion Sonata” is in four movements.
I shall tell this story from two angles – a 19th century angle on the left and a 21st angle on the right.
“The Brink of the White Rock”
The first movement is based on a famous and sad Irish song that goes like this: (translated from Irish by https://lyricstranslate.com)
“The edge of the White Rock
“I deem it better than great Ireland,
“Oh fair-haired handsome woman, if my fate is that you be mine
The singer laments a woman who had never accepted him when she was still alive. Now she is dead in the sand below on the beach.
It breaks his heart. He consoles himself with the thought that now she will surely accept his love, now that she is in heaven.
There he will give her all of what he has. He will drive her in a golden carriage to the edge of this great white rock. And here they shall celebrate their love together.
This will be their Real Completion, at the edge of this White Rock.
“Rejection and a Plan”
Our version of the first movement is a new rendition of the same melody at left, without lyrics.
For this I go deep into my inner world.
There I feel and think of a very old dream, a dream that I have had as long as I remember.
Tears come to my eyes, if I permit them.
I am thinking, and I am remembering... oh, yes...
I have had this dream for, oh so long...
Change of scene.
This time they are married. She has accepted him, and he has accepted her. They love each other enormously, as only two young lovers can.
However, the elements around them are still ranged against them.
We are at the time of the 1847 potato famine. They live in a lovely site in Skibbereen, in southern Ireland, but a rebellion is raging. The young couple with a young son cannot pay their rent. They have asked the landlord for a temporary relief. But no help has been granted and they are left in raw despair.
“Pleas and Rejection”
In my second movement (of an original composition) I am reliving my deepest dream.
In this movement I take my dream a step further.
I have seen so much, and I have received a great deal of what I have wanted in life.
But there still remains this very precious wish.
It is the most important wish I have, from the bottom of my heart.
I am asking in this movement, “can I now have my dearest wish?”
I ask, and I ask once more, “will my wish be granted this time?”
“No” is the answer, and the story gets still worse:
“The landlord and the sheriff came to take us all away.
Worse yet, his beloved wife died in view of all that despair.
“I heaved a sigh and bade goodbye to dear old Skibbereen.”
Here is the entire text of “Skibbereen”:
“Oh father dear, I oft-times hear you speak of Erin's isle
“Oh son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
“Oh well do I remember that bleak December day
“Your mother too, God rest her soul, fell on the stony ground
“And you were only two years old and feeble was your frame
“Oh father dear, the day will come when in answer to the call
“Struggling and Succeeding at Last”
But the answer is “no!”
I am refused again. There is no pity!
I must live through yet more turmoil.
I labour away and I suffer, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Sometimes I forget my dream entirely, and years go by, and I barely notice that they have flown by.
But at the end, what a surprise!
Joy finally appears in view!
“The Princess Royal” a/k/a "Miss MacDermott" a/k/a "The Arethusa"
In this last movement, we are a few years later. The father from Skibbereen and their little son have landed in a far-off country.
They were well received. Their pain has diminished, and most of their anger is now gone.
Left is a hollow sadness and recurring pangs of home sickness. Things will never be what they had hoped for at the start.
But they are grateful to have new friends around them, and that brings new hope and joys for future days.
Image: Turlough O'Carolan 1670 – 1738. Well-known blind Irish harper, with 214 known compositions. Wikipedia.
“Completion in View”
I adapted this classic Irish tune into my fourth movement.
Finally, joy is at the horizon.
Is it really true?
It satisfies my most precious wish, the one I kept so long in my deepest dreams.
After all the turmoil, I can now celebrate my inner completion with this tune.
The base of this movement is one of the most famous of Turlough O'Carolan's melodies, dating from the early 18th century.
O'Carolan's tune is a fitting closing to this sonata.
According to Wikipedia, “After being blinded by smallpox at the age of eighteen, Carolan was apprenticed by Mrs. MacDermott Roe to [be] a good harper. At the age of twenty-one, being given a horse and a guide, he set out to travel Ireland and compose songs for patrons.”
True completion can come in many ways, and when it arrives at last, let us celebrate it, just as it comes to us.
This composition is dedicated to all who wish for a second chance and their real completion, at their own White Rock, or at Skibbereen, or at their new home, wherever that may be.
Entire Sonata in G -- “The Completion Sonata” (revised 2021)
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