one poet, ten composers, twenty choral works
listen to the entire work – follow the score and lyrics

Home 9 Composers 9 LOST WORDS: A SPELL BOOK

featuring Elektra Women’s Choir: director – Morna Edmundson


Listed in order of the program/performance. The playlist – above – is in the same order.


ramble is on the march again,
Rolling and arching along the hedges,
into parks on city edges.
All streets are suddenly thick with briar;
cars snarled fast, business over.
Moths have come in their millions,
drawn to the thorns. The air flutters.
Bramble has reached each house now,
looped it in wire. People lock doors,
close shutters.
Little shoots steal through keyholes,
to leave – in quiet halls,
Empty stairwells – bowls of bright
blackberries where the light falls.

hank of rope in the late hot sun; a curl
of bark; a six, an eight:
For adder is as adder basks.
Deep in heather, coiled in gorse, sunk among
the winter stones:
For adder is as adder hides.
Darts, diamond sides, sine-wave swerves,
live-wire curves of force:
For adder is as adder glides.
Echo of snake, self-escape, a left-behind ghost:
For adder is as adder sheds.
Rustle of grass, sudden susurrus, what
the eye misses:
For adder is as adder hisses.

lue flowers at the blue hour –
Late-day light in a bluebell wood.
Under branch, below leaf,
billows blue so deep, sea deep,
Each step is taken in an ocean.
Blue flows at the blue hour:
colour is current, undertow.
Enter the wood with care, my love,
Lest you are pulled down by the hue,
Lost in the depths, drowned in blue.

s flake is to blizzard, as
Curve is to sphere, as knot is to net, as
One is to many, as coin is to money, as
bird is to flock, as
Rock is to mountain, as drop is to fountain, as
spring is to river, as glint is to glitter, as
Near is to far, as wind is to weather, as
feather is to flight, as light is to star, as
kindness is to good, so acorn is to wood

abinet-maker, could you craft me a conker?
Oil its wood, burnish its veneer, set it glowing
from within?
Never. Not a chance. No hope at all.
King, then, could you command me a conker?
Compel its green spikes to grow, its white plush
to thicken? Impossible. Impractical. Inconceivable.
Engineer, surely you could design me a conker?
Refine its form, mill its curves and edges?
Manufacture me that magic casket?
Unfeasible. Unworkable. Unimaginable.
Realize this (said the Cabinet-maker, the King and
the Engineer together), conker cannot be made,
however you ask it, whatever word or tool you use,
regardless of decree. Only one thing can conjure
conker – and that thing Is tree.

azzle me, little sun of the grass!
And spin me, tiny time machine!
(Tick-tock, sun clock, thistle & dock.)
Now no longer known as
Dent-de-Lion, Lion’s Tooth or Windblow,
(Tick-tock, sun clock, nettle & dock.)
Evening Glow, Milkwitch or Parachute, so
Let new names take root, thrive and grow,
(Tick-tock, sun clock, rattle & dock.)
I would make you some, such as
Bane of Lawn Perfectionists
Or Fallen Star of the Football Pitch,
or Scatterseed, but
Never would I call you only, merely, simply weed.’
(Tick-tock, sun clock, clover & dock.)

ern’s first form is furled.
Each frond fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows.
Fern flares.
Now fern is fully fanned.

Heather is never only heather,
as moor is never merely moor.
Ever lain down in heather, got its measure,
seen how it shares its weather with
Asphodel and bilberry, crowberry and
cotton-grass, grows together with
Tormentil’s flower, moss’s cushion,
lichen’s feather?
Hold a heartful of heather,
never let it wither,
Even as you travel far from crag and river –
Remember heather, the company it keeps,
its treasure.

ere hunts heron. Here haunts heron.
Huge-hinged heron. Grey-winged weapon.
Eked from iron and wreaked from blue and
beaked with steel: heron, statue, seeks eel.
Rock still at weir sill. Stone still at weir sill.
Dead still at weir sill. Still still at weir sill.
Until, eelless at weir sill, heron magically…
Out of the water creaks long-legs heron,
old-priest heron, from hereon in all sticks and planks
and rubber-bands, all clanks and
clicks and rusty squeaks.
Now heron hauls himself into flight – early
aviator, heavy freighter – and with steady
wingbeats boosts his way through evening
light to roost.

am ivy, a real high-flyer.
Via bark and stone I scale tree and spire.
You call me ground-cover; I say sky-wire.

ingfisher: the colour-giver, fire-bringer, flame-flicker,
river’s quiver.
Ink-black bill, orange throat, and a quick blue
back-gleaming feather-stream.
Neat and still it sits on the snag of a stick, until with . . .
Gold-flare, wing-fan, whipcrack the kingfisher –
zingfisher, singfisher! –
Flashes down too fast to follow, quick and quicker
carves its hollow
In the water, slings its arrow superswift to swallow
Stickleback or shrimp or minnow.
Halcyon is its other name – also ripple-calmer,
Evening angler, weather-teller, rainbringer and
Rainbow bird – that sets the stream alight with burn
zingfisher, singfisher! –

ittle astronaut, where have you gone, and how is your
song still torrenting on?
Aren’ t you short of breath as you climb higher, up there
in the thin air, with your magical song still tumbling on?
Right now I need you, for my sadness has come again
and my heart grows flatter – so I’ m coming to find
you by following your song,
Keeping on into deep space, past dying stars and
exploding suns, to where at last, little astronaut,
you sing your heart out at all dark matter.

agpie Manifesto:
Argue Every Toss!
Gossip, Bicker, Yak and Snicker All Day Long!
Pick a Fight in an Empty Room!
Interrupt, Interject, Intercept, Intervene!
Every Magpie for Every Magpie against
Every Other Walking Flying Swimming
Creeping Creature on the Earth!*
*Except eagles, for they are too scary…

ewt, oh newt, you are too cute!’
Emoted the coot to the too-cute newt,
With your frilly back and your shiny suit
and your spotted skin so unhirsute!’
Too cute?!’ roared the newt to the
unastute coot. ‘With all this careless
talk of cute you bring me into
disrepute, for newts aren’t cute:
we’re kings of the pond, lions of the
duckweed, dragons of the water;
albeit, it’s true,’ — he paused — ‘minute.’

tter enters river without falter – what a
supple slider out of holt and into water!
This shape-shifter’s a sheer breath-taker, a
sure heart-stopper – but you’ll only ever spot
a shadow-flutter, bubble-skein, and never
(almost never) actual otter.
This swift swimmer’s a silver-miner – with
trout its ore it bores each black pool deep
and deeper, delves up-current steep and
steeper, turns the water inside-out,
then inside-outer.
Ever dreamed of being otter? That
utter underwater thunderbolter,
that shimmering twister?
Run to the riverbank, otter-dreamer, slip
your skin and change your matter, pour
your outer being into otter – and enter
now as otter without falter into water.

ock rasps, what are you?
I am Raven! Of the blue-black jacket and the
Boxer’s swagger, stronger and older than peak
and then boulder, raps Raven in reply.
Air asks, what are you?
I am Raven! Prince of Play, King of Guile,
grin-on-face base-jumper, twice as agile as
the wind, thrice as fast as any gale, rasps
Raven in reply.
Vixen ventures, what are you?
I am Raven! Solver of problems, picker of
locks, who can often outsmart stoat and
always out-think fox, scoffs Raven in reply.
Earth inquires, what are you?
I am Raven! I have followed men from forest
edge to city scarp: black shadow, dark
familiar, hexes Raven in reply.
Nothing knows what you are.
Not true! For I am Raven, who nothing cannot
know. I steal eggs the better to grow, I eat
eyes the better to see, I pluck wings the
better to fly, riddles Raven in reply.

hould green-as-moss be mixed with
blue-of-steel be mixed with gleam-of gold
you’d still fall short by far of the ̶
Tar-bright oil-slick sheen and
gloss of starling wing.
And if you sampled sneaker-squeaks
and car-alarms and phone ringtones
you’d still come nowhere near the ̶
Rooftop riprap street-smart
hip-hop of starling song.
Let shade clasp coal clasp pitch
clasp storm clasp witch,
they’d still be pale beside the ̶
In-the-dead-of-night-black, cave-black,
head-cocked, fight-back gleam of starling eye.
Northern lights teaching shoaling fish teaching
swarming flies teaching clouding ink
would never learn the ̶
Ghostly swirling surging whirling melting
murmuration of starling flock.

easel whirls through world like wildfire:
Embers spin, smoke curls, for weasel
Acts on land like spark on tinder –
Scorches grass, turns field to pyre,
sand to glass, tree to cinder,
Eats air, burns shadow,
Lights the sky, hot-wires the sun with
its speed, its dance, its gyres.

illow, when the wind blows so your branches billow,
O will you whisper while we listen so we learn what
words your long leaves loosen?
If you whisper when the wind blows so your branches
billow, willow, we will listen for a day, a week, a year,
till we know what willows say, what willows speak.
Lean in, listeners, come below our leaves and wait until
the wind blows so our branches billow, listen for a year,
a week, a day, but you will never hear what willows speak,
what willows say.
Long you linger, listeners, hard you press your ears against
our bark, but you will never sense our sap, and you will
never speak in leaves, or put down roots into the rot –
for we are willow and you are not.
Oh open up your heartwood to us will you, willow, show
us your deep within, your rough without, your water-
brushing bough, your shoot, your grain, your knot?
We will never whisper to you, listeners, nor speak, nor shout,
and even if you learn to utter alder, elder, poplar, aspen,
you will never know a word of willow – for we are willow
and you are not.

hen wren whirrs from stone to furze the world around
her slows, for wren is quick, so quick she blurs the air
through which she flows, yes –
Rapid wren is needle, rapid wren is pin – and wren’s song
is sharp-song, briar-song, thorn-song, and wren’s flight
is dark-flight, flick-flight, night-flight, yes –
Each wren etches, stitches, switches, glitches, yes – .
Now you think you see wren, now you know you don’t.
Poetry by Robert Macfarlane


SSAA SCORE – (130 pages)


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SSAA complete score (BOOK) – CP 2208

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individual movements – please see below

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1) Piano
2) Flute, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, French Horn, Violin, Cello, Percussion – including Marimba. Instrumentation varies from movement to movement.