Welcome, Stranger, To This Place: William Blake Set to Song
By Maria Popova
For centuries, the poetry of William Blake (November 28, 1757–August 12, 1827) has inspired creative interpretations and homages across a multitude of media — from Maurice Sendak’s forgotten formative illustrations to JoHee Yoon’s beastly verses to the Provensens’ wondrous vintage children’s book. Half a century after Allen Ginsburg’s musical adaptation of Blake, British independent music project The Wraiths offers a contemporary counterpart in Welcome, Stranger, To This Place (iTunes), setting twelve of Blake’s most beloved poems to song.
The first track, after which the album itself is titled, in turn borrows its title from the first line of Blake’s “Song First by a Shepherd,” found in his Collected Poems:
Welcome stranger to this place,
Where joy doth sit on every bough,
Paleness flies from every face,
We reap not, what we do not sow.
Innocence doth like a Rose,
Bloom on every Maidens cheek;
Honor twines around her brows,
The jewel Health adorns her neck.
Welcome, Stranger, To This Place is quietly magical in its totality. Complement it with E.E. Cummings set to song by Tin Hat, 13 songs based on W.B. Yeats by jazz vocalist and composer Christine Tobin, and Natalie Merchant’s musical adaptations of Victorian nursery rhymes.
Published June 22, 2015