Fred Thomas’ album ‘The Beguilers’ weaves crafted song-writing into the narratives of poems by William Blake, Emily Brontë, William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Walter Savage Landor and Thomas Carew. Drawing on a wonderfully strange repository of musical influences – English folk, Joao Gilberto, Minimalism, the Aka Pigmies, The Beatles, and the English Madrigal School – Fred Thomas’ settings delicately bring the poets’ images and metaphors to life with finely wrought harmonies and luscious melodies. ‘The Beguilers’ features vocals from Ellie Rusbridge and instrumental contributions from Dave Shulman, Liam Byrne, and Malte Hage.
Buy ‘The Beguilers’ here
Music written, arranged and produced by Fred Thomas
Mixed by Fred Thomas & Alex Bonney
Mastered by Jon Astley
Artwork by Ted Allen
Fred Thomas – guitars, keyboards, double bass, gamba, cello percussion
Ellie Rusbridge – vocals
Dave Shulman – clarinets
Liam Byrne – viola da gamba
Malte Hage – electric bass
“a beautiful thing….The Beguilers is absolutely gorgeous” – Guy Garvey, BBC Radio 6
“A beautiful, unique album that dazzlingly recasts these poems in new and unexpected ways” – Nest Collective Hour,Resonance FM
A Dream (William Blake)
Once a dream did weave a shade
O’er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
Where on grass methought I lay.
Troubled, wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangled spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:
‘Oh my children! do they cry,
Do they hear their father sigh?
look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me.’
Pitying, I dropped a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, ‘What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?
‘I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetle’s hum;
Little wanderer, hie thee home!’
The Little Boy Lost (William Blake)
‘Father, father, where are you going?
Oh do not walk so fast!
Speak, father, speak to you little boy,
Or else I shall be lost.’
The night was dark, no father was there,
The child was wet with dew;
The mire was deep, and the child did weep,
And away the vapour flew.
Mother, I cannot mind my wheel;
My fingers ache, my lips are dry:
Oh! if you felt the pain I feel!
But Oh, who ever felt as I!
No longer could I doubt him true;
All other men may use deceit:
He always said my eyes were blue,
And often swore my lips were sweet.
A Cradle Song (William Blake)
Sleep! sleep! beauty bright,
Dreaming o’er the joys of night;
Sleep! sleep! in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
Sweet Babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.
As thy softest limbs I feel,
Smiles as of the morning steal
O’er thy cheek, and o’er thy breast
Where thy little heart does rest.
O! the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep.
When thy little heart does wake
Then the dreadful lightnings break,
From thy cheek and from thy eye,
O’er the youthful harvests nigh.
Infant wiles and infant smiles
Heaven and Earth of peace beguiles.
Love to Faults is Always Blind (William Blake)
Love to faults is always blind,
Always is to joy inclin’d,
Lawless, wing’d & unconfin’d,
And breaks all chains from every mind.
Deceit to secrecy confin’d,
Lawful, cautious & refin’d,
To every thing but interest blind,
And forges fetters for the mind.
There souls of men are bought and sold,
And milk-fed Infancy for gold;
And Youth to slaughter-houses led,
And Beauty, for a bit of bread.
Take, O Take Those Lips Away (William Shakespeare)
Take, O take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn!
But my kisses bring again,
Seals of love, but seal’d in vain,
Seal’d in vain!
Ask Me No More (Thomas Carew)
Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauty’s orient deep
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.
Ask me no more whither do stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.
Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale, when May is past;
For in your sweet dividing throat
She winters, and keeps warm her note.
Ask me no more where those stars ’light,
That downwards fall in dead of night;
For in your eyes they sit, and there
Fixed become, as in their sphere.
Ask me no more if east or west
The phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.
Rest, Sweet Nymphs (Francis Pilkington)
Rest, sweet nymphs, let golden sleep
Charm thy star brighter eyes,
While my lute the watch doth keep
With pleasing sympathies.
Lulla, lullaby. Lulla, lullaby.
Sleep sweetly, sleep sweetly,
Let nothing affright ye,
In calm contentments lie.
Dream, fair virgins, of delight
And blest Elysian groves,
While the wandring shades of night
Resemble your true loves.
Lulla, lullaby. Lulla, lullaby.
Your kisses, your blisses,
Send them by your wishes,
Although they be not nigh.
Thus, dear damsels, I do give
‘Good night’, and so am gone:
With your hearts’ desires long live,
Still joy, and never moan.
Lulla, lullaby. Lulla, lullaby.
Hath pleased you and eased you,
And sweet slumber seized you,
And now to bed I hie.
Gentle Lady (James Joyce)
Gentle lady, do not sing
Sad songs about the end of love;
Lay aside sadness and sing
How love that passes is enough.
Sing about the long deep sleep
Of lovers that are dead, and how
In the grave all love shall sleep:
Love is aweary now.
The Night Wind (Emily Brontë)
In summer’s mellow midnight,
A cloudless moon shone through
Our open parlour window,
And rose-trees wet with dew.
I sat in silent musing;
The soft wind waved my hair;
It told me heaven was glorious,
And sleeping earth was fair.
I needed not its breathing
To bring such thoughts to me;
But still it whispered lowly,
How dark the woods will be!
“The thick leaves in my murmur
Are rustling like a dream,
And all their myriad voices
Instinct with spirit seem.”
I said, “Go, gentle singer,
Thy wooing voice is kind:
But do not think its music
Has power to reach my mind.
“Play with the scented flower,
The young tree’s supple bough,
And leave my human feelings
In their own course to flow.”
The wanderer would not heed me;
Its kiss grew warmer still.
“O come!” it sighed so sweetly;
“I’ll win thee ‘gainst thy will.
“Were we not friends from childhood?
Have I not loved thee long?
As long as thou, the solemn night,
Whose silence wakes my song.
“And when thy heart is resting
Beneath the church-aisle stone,
I shall have time for mourning,
And thou for being alone.”
Lover’s Tale (James Joyce)
O Sweetheart, hear you
Your lover’s tale;
A man shall have sorrow
When friends him fail.
For he shall know then
Friends be untrue
And a little ashes
Their words come to.
But one unto him
Will softly move
And softly woo him
In ways of love.
His hand is under
Her smooth round breast;
So he who has sorrow
Shall have rest.
Fall, Leaves, Fall (Emily Brontë)
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.