No, I haven't suddenly forgotten how to spell (though in the 18th century they used to say it was a poor sort of writer who only knew one way to spell a word). I have performed a lot of early music with guitar and voice, especially lute songs from the 16th century, and I learned that it is very useful to know how the original text was spelled because it can offer clues as to the correct pronunciation, which has shifted over the centuries. So I developed the habit of not updating the spelling for older texts.
This poem, one I have been reading for a very long time, is by John Donne (1572 - 1631). He was one of the group known as the Metaphysical poets. They were known for their philosophical approach to metaphor and humor described as "wit and metaphysical conceits". The poem by Donne is a pretty good example of their approach. I like to think of it as being similar to some blues songs by Robert Johnson such as "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" a similar complaint about womankind, though Donne's poem is more witty than bitter! The original title is just "Song", but as that fails to distinguish it from other similarly titled poems, the first line of the poem is usually included in the title:
Song: Goe and Catch a Falling Starre
Goe, and catche a falling starre,
Get with child a mandrake roote,
Tell me, where all past yeares are,
Or who cleft the Divels foot,
Teach me to heare Mermaides singing,
Or to keep off envies stinging,
Serves to advance an honest minde.
If thou beest borne to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand daies and nights,
Till age snow white haires on thee,
Thou, when thou retorn'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
Loves a woman true, and faire.
If thou findst one, let mee know,
Such a Pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet doe not, I would not goe,
Though at next doore wee might meet,
Though shee were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
False, ere I come, to two, or three.
My setting came to me like a flash and I hurried to set it down before it evaporated. What I mean is that the running motif in the guitar is what came to me, or the germ of it, which then had to be elaborated for the whole song. Then I realized that the melody should be that of a dance-song, so that came next. Then I created some twisty harmonies and rhythms to reflect the metaphysical conceit of the metaphors: "Go and catch a falling star" indeed! Uniquely among all my songs, this one is strophic, which just means that each of the three verses is set to the same music, except for the cadence that separates them, which changes each time. The only problem I had was the ending, which I rewrote several times before coming up with the one you will hear.
The guitar part is what is known as a moto perpetuo that is, a piece featuring a steady stream of fairly quick notes. This is challenging to play and the difficulty is increased a bit by the complex groupings of notes shared by both the voice and guitar. A violinist friend thinks that it sounds a bit like Bach, but the harmonies are a bit too wayward for that! In any case, I hope you enjoy the song!