Song: ‘How stern are the woes'
DOI link for Song: ‘How stern are the woes'
Song: ‘How stern are the woes' book
Written shortly before its inclusion in a letter of 14 September 1810 to Edward ‘Hesekiah’ [Fergus] Graham, the music-teacher at Field Place and a protégé of S.’s parents. S. hoped to have it set to music by the Austrian musician Joseph Woelff (1772–1814), who had been Graham’s own teacher, and S.’s introductory words, ‘This is the other song’, show that one or more poems had already been submitted for this purpose. Likely ones are Nos. 26 (‘Stern, stern is the voice’), published in V&C as ‘Song’, and 28 (‘Ah! faint are her limbs’), which is given to Eloise to sing in ch. ix of St Irvyne. The incorporation of songs into the novel was imitated from Mrs Radcliffe and ‘Monk’ Lewis. ‘How stern are the woes’ is also sung by Eloise earlier in the same chapter, in memory of her deceased mother, but explained as ‘a song which Marianne [Eloise’s elder sister] had composed soon after her brother’s death’. It is perhaps associated therefore with Louisa Grove’s death. S. commented to Graham: ‘You well know I am not much of a hand at love songs, you see I mingle metaphysics with even this, but perhaps in this age of Philosophy that may be excused’ (L i 16). All three of these songs are in the metre of Scott’s ‘Hellvellyn’. Although the St Irvyne version must be subsequent to that of the letter it is verbally inferior, 105though almost unpointed. (St Irvyne was corrected for the printer on 14 November: L i 20).