Let's talk about art song.
Art songs are songs that are written outside of operas but are sung in a classical way. And here's the the cool thing about art song: because it's outside of opera, it's not part of a story. There's a lot more room for interpretation as the listener and as the singer, and you can relate the music and poetry directly to yourself rather than through a character's perspective.
This is one of my favorite art songs. It was written by a man named Richard Hundley in 1971, and the poetry was written by James Purdy in 1968. The poetry is beautiful and straight-forward:
Come ready and see me,
No matter how late
Come before the years run out,
I'm waiting with a candle
No wind will blow out,
But you must haste
On foot or by sky
For no one can wait forever
Under the bluest sky
I can't wait forever
For the years are running out.
There's something so amazing about adding music to these words. Singing is one of the most natural things that we do as people - trained or untrained, we all love to sing. So singing an art song allows me to access all of those emotions that I can be too self-conscious to show when I'm simply reading a poem outloud.
And gosh, I love this song. From the first few notes of the introduction, you can hear the tenderness with which Hundley wrote this piece. He wants to convey how relatable these emotions are - we've all felt this way. There's no inherent judgment of these feelings because the music is showing what's in the singer's heart. It's a reflection from within, not a view from without.
But what's the lesson? This woman has met a man who has stolen her heart, the kind of person that she will (metaphorically and literally) carry a candle for for the rest of her life. She is willing to wait for him...until she isn't. And that's what I love about her! She knows that she can't wait forever. And that at some point, her love will not outlast her priorities.
How can we relate this to our lives? Here's an example that you've heard before. Two people begin a relationship, but one of them doesn't want to get married or doesn't want children. They stay together for years, trying to convince themselves that marriage doesn't matter, there's no next step that needs to be taken, and they've reached the pinnacle of their relationship. But that's not the case.
You can't wait forever. If what you want is a marriage, is children, then even love won't outlast those priorities. The song may be speaking of waiting for your lover to return, but I think of it as waiting for your lover to "come around." This is the most understandable of predicaments because love is so intoxicating and fulfilling; but if what you need as an individual isn't complemented by your partner, then you'll hit bumps along the way.
If you have a different view of Come Ready and See Me, let me know in the comments below! Let's get a discussion started - I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Hey! I'm Abby, the creator of Classically Abby, a commentary, opera, beauty, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. I'm the first Conservative Influencer and I'm an opera singer with three degrees in performance!