Song : The Love for what is Far Away


Because I love what’s far away
My heart is sad yet filled with joy,
All pastimes else appear a toy,
Figures of mist the winds destroy,
Or  hopes and fears that last a day,
Beside this love that comes from oh so far away!

I hear a voice from far away,
An angel voice that speaks my name,
And calls to me, always the same,
Burning me like a heatless flame,
Then in this land I cannot stay
But must depart for what is oh so far away!

 I see a face from far away,
No mortal face its likeness is,
Its eyes foretell eternal bliss,
All earth’s delights are nought to this,
Then I must leave without delay
And seek this face that is so very far away!

Because I sought what’s far away
My life was sad yet filled with joy,
All pastimes else appeared a toy,
Figures of mist the winds destroy,
But now beside me, come what may,
A presence stands that once was oh so far away!


                                                      Sebastian Hayes


The starting point for this song was this vida, or brief biography, of the twelfth century troubadour Jaufre Rudel de Blaia  :

             Jaufre Rudel de Blaia was of gentle birth, and was Prince of Blaia. And he fell in love with the Countess of Tripoli without ever having seen her, simply because of the good things he had heard pilgrims returning from Antioch tell of her, and for her he wrote many fine poems, rich in melody and poor in words. But wishing to see her, he took the Cross and went to sea. In the boat he became ill, and when he arrived at Tripoli, he was taken to an inn, for he was near death. The Countess was told about this and she came to him, to his bedside, and took him in her arms. He realized it was the Countess, and all at once recovered his sense of sight and smell, and praised God for having sustained his life until he had seen her. And then he died in her arms. And she had him buried with great ceremony in the  house of the Knights Templars. And then, on that same day, she took the veil for the grief she felt at his death.  

            One verse of his most famous song particularly struck me :

I shall take no more joy in love
If I have none from far away,
For I know none fairer or nobler
Anywhere, near or far away.
I hold it in such esteem
That, for her, I’d be proclaimed
A captive among the Saracens.

            As the editor writes, “He [Jaufre Rudel] moves in a world close to that of the mystics, where the sensual and the divine become fused. So close is this fusion that some critics have taken his ‘distant love’ as being an allegory for the Virgin Mary or the Holy Land” (Bonner, Songs of the Troubadours).

             For all that, my song is based on personal experience and does not really have a ‘double meaning’ as in Jaufre Rudel, since my song expresses the love for, and desire to be united with, a reality ‘that is far away’, conceived as a vaguely feminine presence which is habitual in troubadour lyrics.

I wrote the words first and intended to get a composer friend of mine to compose the melody. But, although I cannot read music and have never written a song in my life, the melody came to me one afternoon and I subsequently sung it to John Baird who wrote it down and played the piano accompaniment in the CD (for which many thanks).

Download and listen to the first verse of The Love for what is Far Away.

Song : Anima Mundi (The Soul of the World)

ANIMA MUNDI, Song for solo voice and lute, music John Baird, Lyrics Sebastian Hayes   

I am all that is, has ever been,
Neither god nor man created me,
I am all that is, has ever been,
All that you know, all that you hear, all that you see.

 Darker than dark and yet lighter than light, before time had  begun, I  was there alone. 

I am in the springtime quickening,
I am hidden in the winter sky,
In the heat and blaze of summertime,
I was not born, I do not change, I cannot die.

I am nearer than the air you breathe,
I am farther than the farthest star,
In the air, earth, fire and water,
All that you feel, all that you sense, all that you are.

Lighter than light and yet darker than dark, after time is no more,  only I will remain.

I am all that is, will ever be,
Neither man nor god created me,
I am all that is, will ever be,
I am the same, I am the same, eternally.


“The One remains, the Many change and pass”


Plutarch (25 – 125 AD) relates that the inscription above the gateway of the Temple of Isis in Thaïs, Upper Egypt, read :

     “I am all that has been, is, or will be, and no mortal  man has ever lifted the hem of my garment.”

The belief that the world and everything within it emerged from a Being which has always existed and always will, and that nothing and no one is completely cut off from this source,  is one of mankind’s oldest and most persistent ideas. We encounter it in the Tao Te Ching, in the Hindu Upanishads, in the Neo-Platonic philosophy of Plotinus during the later Roman Empire, in the writings of certain medieval Christian mystics, in Sufism, in the Jewish Cabbalah, in the poetry of Wordsworth and Shelley and in contemporary Goddess worship….

The musical theme of Anima Mundi made its first appearance in Incidental Music composed by John Baird for a performance of The Tempest ; it also appears as the melody for Persephone’s song  in Sebastian Hayes’s play The Pomegranate  Seeds, and above all in John Baird’s massive choral work, Omnia performed (under the title Gloria) in Westminster Abbey in 1994.

A CD of this song, price £10, sung by Evelyn Tupp with Mike Fields playing  the medieval lute accompaniment  can be obtained from Sebastian Hayes   or  tel. 01747 851573

Download and listen to the first part of Anima Mundi.

Song : The Fugitive

 Anticipating my having a facility to download music on this website (many thanks to my website organiser Kyrios), this ‘talking’ version of “The Fugitive” of which I give a sample verse was recorded by Bob Shearn of Listen Inn, Shaftesbury. Greg Fraser did the vocals and played the accompaniment.

How did this song ever get to be written? I was looking for a French resistance song to use for the screenplay I am currently writing, Footbridge over the Seine, (a ‘coming-of-age’ drama with central character, Josette, a girl student living in Paris at the time of the Algerian war), and at first thought of using the original Complainte du Partisan, music Anna Marly, words Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie. (Resistance fighters apparently often sang this song when giving a hasty burial to fallen comrades in the thick of action.) It contains the beautiful second verse

Personne ne m’a demande
D’ou je viens et ou je vais
Vous qui le savez
Effacez mon passage

(No one asked me/ where I came from or where I am going/You who know these things/ leave no sign of my passing.)

This suited perfectly the mood of my film but other verses were not quite what I wanted. The last verse is

Le vent souffle sur les tombes
La liberte reviendra
On nous oubliera
Nous rentrerons dans l’ombre

(The wind whistles above the graves./ Freedom will return/ We will be forgotten/We will pass into the shadows).

This is excellent also, particularly because it states categorically that the partisans will not be remembered, they will ‘pass into the shadows’ —  but this does not bother them because they have fulfilled their mission.) Once again, this is very much what I wanted to say in the screenplay, though, for my purposes, the text was too tied to the hope of political liberty — I would have preferred La vie reviendra (Life will return) rather than La liberte reviendra (Freedom will return).

I then passed to Leonard Cohen’s version, Partisan, which, though a highly effective song, did not quite fit the bill either — curiously he left out the key second verse of the original.
Eventually, as in so many other situations in my life, I found I had to do it all myself, not only write my own lyrics but the melody as well, and, despite having no musical training, I tried it out on the public at this summer’s ‘Dare2 Festival’ at Tollard Royal, Dorset —  many thanks to the organiser Paddy Seymour for giving me this unique opportunity !

       The Fugitive

I never planned this mission,
Where I stay I never know,
For I let the movement send me
Wherever it wants me to go.

If the Germans come and ask you,
Have you seen me passing by,

Tell them you never knew me,

Tell them it was not I.

I know quite soon they’ll catch me
At the challenge of a gun,

I’ll have to stand and face them,
There’ll be nowhere left to run.

We never planned this meeting,
Why we met we’ll never know,

But we let the current take us

Wherever it wanted to go.

No sign will mark my passing,
No tomb will bear my name,

But I’ll not be forgotten

When I go back to where I came.

                  Sebastian Hayes

Download and listen to the first part of The Fugitive.