Choosing the poems for the Oratorio.
A note from Sue Curtis, research and poem compilation:
There are 832 pages of poems in my copy of Robert Graves; The Complete Poems.
Many of them I have loved since my university days, taught at university and school; learned by heart.
But this work was not just about Graves’s poetry, but also about the war.
Not just about the war, but also about a young man who was still a schoolboy and already a poet.
And not only did we need to choose the right poems to express his particular dilemma: we also had to find a narrative relevant enough to the experience of all the young men that went through that ordeal to be a true commemoration of the whole experience; a narrative to pull the audience through with us.
And, last, but not least, I had to find poems that were musically inspiring, singable, as beautiful as the music of which they would become a part.
What followed was a long process of elimination over months of reading, thinking, and horse trading. But we got there in the end.
What follows is a description of how each poem earned its place in the Oratorio.