Cyprus Well

by Jim Causley

This album is a collection of Charles Causley poems set to music and sung by me – Jim Causley. I first began setting these wonderful poems to music about seven years ago. I had grown up having them read to me and I have a distant memory of a primary school teacher holding a book in front of me and explaining that I had the same name as its author.

I didn’t have any difficulty choosing which ones to set; they jumped out at me quite readily and the tunes flowed swiftly and with ease. The talented musicians who have helped me create this album found that the accompaniments flowed easily to the words and they all tied together with a keen love of Charles’ work. Recording these poems in Cyprus Well and Mount Pleasant was a very moving experience and I think all involved felt his presence throughout.

If I have in any way brought new interest to Charles’ work and the continued work of the Charles Causley Trust and the Charles Causley Society then I am overjoyed. Jim Causley South Zeal, Devon - March 2013

Charles Causley was primarily a poet. The influences on his verse were many, and can be traced through the stages of his life. First come his childhood memories; then his years at sea during the Second World War; work as a primary-school teacher, followed by a period of extensive travel. All of these provided valuable content. Causley was a poet of place and people, and descriptions drawn from Cornwall and in particular his home town of Launceston – are prevalent in his work.

One influence dominates his style of poetry: a love of English Folk songs. The tales and ballads which he learned as a child, and the hymns which he sang at church, instilled within him the importance of music and movement in poetry. As a child he learned to play violin and piano, and he supplemented his wages by playing in a local dance band in the 30s. “We were well-paid”, he would later claim, but then with typical self deprecation, added: “we should have been fined”. In fact he was a very competent piano player, and played it throughout his life.

Causley’s verse can be both ancient and modern, but he is best known for traditional ballad-style poems, a fact which sometimes led to accusations of being “old-fashioned” and - criticising with faint praise - “accessible”. Causley didn’t care. Ploughing a lonely poetic furrow suited him just fine. Often, his poems lend themselves to musical arrangements. Unlike many poets who wince at the idea of their poems being set to music, Causley embraced it.

All but one of the tracks here were recorded in Causley’s Launceston home, Cyprus Well, using his piano. The results are exceptional; all the musicians involved were deeply moved by using the study as a recording studio, and Charles would have loved it all. It is comforting to know that the muses which inspired Charles during his fifty years in the house, came back to life for five short days and worked their magic again.

Malcolm Wright, Launceston, Cornwall, March 2013

01 | On All Souls’ Day
Players: Jim, Ceri, Julie
Dedicated to Josephine Causley

02 | My Young Man’s a Cornishman
Players: Jim, Ceri, Hilary, Julie, Neil
Dedicated to Richard Trethewey

03 | A Song of Truth
Players: Jim, Ceri, Julie
Translated from the German ‘Ein Wahrheitslied’. Published for the first time in
‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ (1806)
Dedicated to Sebastian Dötterl

04 | Dan Dory
Players: Jim, Hilary, Neil
Features a verse of: Goonlaze (words: trad Cornish, tune: Simon Lockley)
The melody of Dan Dory is: The Outlandish Knight ( trad English)
Dedicated to Kerry Jo Causley

05 | Eagle One, Eagle Two
Players: Jim, Ceri, Julie
Outside the Eagle House Hotel in Launceston sit two stone eagle statues. Local legend tells
they come alive at night
Dedicated to all the good folk of Lanson

06 | Rattler Morgan
Players: Jim, Ceri
features The Morgan Rattler (trad English)
Rattler Morgan is a naval nickname usually given to someone with the surname Morgan. It most likely originates from the American Captain Ebenezer “Rattler” Morgan (1817 - 1890).
In Cornwall ‘Morgan Rattler’ is frequently applied to things that are particularly striking or excellent of their kind. What a Lancashire man would sometimes call a ‘regular bobby-dazzler’, a Cornishman
would call a ‘regular morgan-rattler’.
Dedicated to Michael Hanke

07 | Timothy Winters
Players: Jim, Bob, Keith, Pete
Dedicated to Hugo Cowley

08 | Angel Hill
Players: Jim, Ceri
Birdsong & Bells recorded by Julie on her iphone whilst strolling down Ridgegrove Hill
Dedicated to Emily Watson

09 | Trusham
Players: Jim, Carl
Dedicated to all the good folk of Trus-ham

10 | Who?
Players: Jim, Ceri, Julie
Dedicated to Ross Causley

11 | The Mystery of St Mylor
Players: Jim
Dedicated to Michelle O’Connor

12 | Sibard’s Well / Night Before a Journey
Players: Jim, Ceri
Dedicated to Malcolm Wright

Sample not available