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The Fishboxes of Peterhead
Written in 2011
Three Songs
Tenor and piano
10 minutes
Difficulty level: Student or professional
These songs are based on three poems by Robin Robertson. With the permission of the poet, the songs use edited versions of the poems. The original text of the poems appears in The Wrecking Light (Picador).
(Hammersmith) Winter

It is so cold (tonight); too cold for snow,
and yet it snows. Through the drawn curtain
shines the snowlight I remember as a boy,
(sitting up at the window watching it fall.)
But you're not here, now, to lead me back
to bed. None of you are. Look at the snow,
I said, (to whoever might be near,) I'm cold,
would you hold me. Hold me. Let me go.
Easter (, Liguria)

Another day watching the ocean (move)
under the sun; pines, (wisteria,) lemon trees.
I darken this paradise like a sudden wind:
olive leaves, blown on their backs, silver
(to) razor wire; (cameras click in the wall.)
Everyone is going home, (and) I realise
(I have = I've) no idea what that means.
(I) listen to the shrieking of the gulls
(and) try to remember. How long ago
did I notice the light was wrong,
(that) something inside (me) was broken?
Standing here, feeling nothing (at all.)
How long have I been leaving?
I don't know.

The fishboxes
of Fraserburgh, Aberdeen,
Peterhead, the wood that broke
on your beach, crates that once held herring,
freshly dead, now hold distance, nothing but the names
of the places I came from, years ago;
and you pull me from the waves,
drawing me out like (a skelf,
as I would say:)
a splinter.
The songs should be performed in the order in the score, and without a break other than the pauses marked at the end of each song. It must be made clear in any public performance and in any programme notes that the original text of the poems has been edited for setting, and that the original poems appear in full in The Wrecking Light (Picador). The full text, with the omissions and changes shown in brackets, is shown above. Any plan for a paid performance to be referred to Robin Robertson c/o Jonathan Cape, Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA.
Click below to download the Score (and parts if needed) as PDF files.