John Ireland in Jersey

The same year that John Ireland composed ‘Sea Fever’ (1913) setting John Masefield’s poetry inspired by his love of Jersey, John Ireland also composed a song cycle of three songs called ‘Marigold’. Interestingly this cycle could not be further from the broad, English-sounding-hymn-like composition of Sea Fever. For his composition of ‘Marigold’ John Ireland obviously took inspiration from the French-impressionist style, even titling it ‘Marigold, an impression’, and using a translation of Verlaine’s poem ‘Spleen’ for the final movement.*

During my research this was a very exciting find, to me it clearly shows the influence of Jersey’s unique ‘French-ness’ on an English composer. What was far more exciting for me, was the title of this piece and the incredible significance it holds for me. Marigold was the name of my grandfather’s boat that I spent many happy weekends and summer holidays on. My grandfather worked on the sea for most of his life by day, and then spent his evenings working as a jazz guitarist in Jersey’s booming entertainment scene from the late 50’s throughout the remainder of the 20th century and then some!

*Verlaine was also the poet for which Debussy would use for his Fêtes Galantes II, which was coincidentally sent to his Paris editors from his suite in the Grand Hotel in St. Helier.

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