RTC-25: 1961 Prophetic Song for SSAA choir

Text: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Commission: ?
Premiere: ?
Publication: CMC / Peer International, 1971
Recording: Amoroso Canto, Canzona Chamber Choir, conducted by Henry Engbrecht (2008)

“Turner’s conventional British cultural heritage is most apparent in Prophetic Song (1961), a musical meditation on a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley.” [Alden Turner – Amoroso Canto]

This poem is the final chorus of Greek Captive Women from Shelley’s lyrical drama “Hellas”


The world’s great age begins anew,
The golden years return.
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn.
Heav’n smiles, and faiths and empires gleam,
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream

A brighter Hellas rears its mountains 
From waves serener far;
A new Peneus rolls his fountains
Against the morning star.
Where fairer Tempes bloom,
There sleep young Cyclads on a sunnier deep

A loftier Argo cleaves the main,
Fraught with a later prize;
Another Orpheus sings again, 
And loves, and weeps, and dies.
A new Ulysses leaves once more
Calypso for his native shore.

Oh, write no more the tale of Troy,
If death Death’s scroll must be!
Nor mix with Laian rage the joy
Which dawns upon the free:
Although a subtler Sphinx renew
Riddles of death Thebes never knew.

Another Athens shall arise
And to remoter time bequeath
Like sunset to the skies,
The splendour of its prime;
and leave, if nought so bright may live,
all earth can take or Heav’n give.

Saturn and Love the long repose 
shall burst more bright and good
than all who fell
than One who rose
not gold, not blood, their altar dowers
but votive tear and symbol flowers.

Oh, cease! Must hate and death return?
Cease! Must men kill and die?
Cease! Drain not to its dregs
The urn of bitter prophecy.
The world is weary of the past
Oh, might it die or rest at last