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Edward Gray
Words by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Published by Stanley, Lucas, Weber & Co., 1880.

Music cover

Sullivan completed his setting of Edward Gray on 24 October 1879, the eve of his departure for America with Gilbert and Carte to supervise the authentic version of H.M.S. Pinafore and to produce The Pirates of Penzance in New York. His biographers, Herbert Sullivan and Newman Flower comment: "Surely there is no better proof of the manner in which Sullivan was able to withdraw his thoughts from all surrounding influences when composing. In spite of all the upheaval of packing, the natural excitement of farewells on account of the coming journey to America, he was able to sit down and employ the last hours before starting in composing a song of such distinguished beauty and feeling as Edward Gray."

Other contributors to Tennyson's Songs, published by Stanley Lucas Weber & Co., included not only British composers such as Joseph Barnby, Sir Julius Benedict, F. H. Cowen, J. L. Hatton and C. Villiers Stanford but also Massenet (who contributed a setting of Come into the Garden, Maud), Gounod, Saint-Saëns and even Liszt.

Karaoke File

Sweet Emma Moreland of yonder town
Met me walking on yonder way,
"And have you lost your heart?" she said;
"And are you married yet, Edward Gray?"
Sweet Emma Moreland spoke to me:
Bitterly weeping I turned away:
"Sweet Emma Moreland, love no more
Can touch the heart of Edward Gray.

"Ellen Adair, she loved me well,
Against her father's and mother's will:
Today I sat for an hour and wept,
By Ellen's grave, on the windy hill.
Shy she was, and I thought her cold;
Thought her proud, and fled over the sea;
Fill'd I was with folly and spite,
When Ellen Adair was dying for me.

Illustration of Tennyson's poem by Millais
Drawing by Millais

"Cruel, cruel the words I said!
Cruelly came they back today:
'You're too slight and fickle,' I said,
'To trouble the heart of Edward Gray.'
There I put my face in the grass
Whisper'd, 'Listen to my despair:
I repent me of all I did:
Speak a little, speak a little,
Ellen Adair!'

"Then I took a pencil and wrote
On the mossy stone as I lay,
'Here lies the body of Ellen Adair;
And here the heart of Edward Gray!'

Love may come and love may go,
And fly, like a bird, from tree to tree:
But I will love no more, no more,
Till Ellen Adair come back to me.
"Bitterly wept I over the stone:
Bitterly weeping I turned away:
There lies the body of Ellen Adair;
And there the heart of Edward Gray!"

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Page modified 24 November 2012