Old editions of poetry books are interesting because they anthologize poems that frequently are omitted from modern editions. Sometimes these poems are better than their successors. Furthermore, in their selections, these musty volumes encapsulate the mood of their times – like old history books, in a way, that tell you more about the time in which they were written, than the time they purport to be about.
These were the thoughts I had one day as I perused the Oxford Book of English Verse edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch, circa 1900. It was there I first encountered “Complaint of the Absence of Her Lover Being upon the Sea.” It struck me then, as it does now, as being one of the most evocative poems I’ve ever read. As such, it was a natural fit for Tyger and Other Tales, the English Romantic poetry project.
My primary intention was to create a mood against which the beautiful lyrics might be understood, like Sandy Denny does so well with “On the Banks of the Nile” from the Fotheringay album. Krysia achieved a crystalline, almost bell-like tone that perfectly elicits their sad pathos. Furthermore, the labyrinthine ins-and-outs of the vocal arrangement is solely to her credit. I had recorded guitars, bass, keyboards, etc., but nothing prepared me for what she came up with in the studio. Afterwards, I went back and re-did most of the mix, adding and subtracting elements to try and achieve the best accompaniment, in order to showcase her remarkable work – in my view, this may be the best track she ever recorded.