William Dunbar poem: "In Honour of the City"

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brian walling
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William Dunbar poem: "In Honour of the City"

Post by brian walling » Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:12 pm

Does anyone at CH Horsham in the 1950s remember singing (or hearing sung) a musical setting of William Dunbar's (1465-1520) poem, In Honour of the City? The opening words are, "London, thou art of townes a per se."

I ask this because I've just had one of those marvellous 60 year leaps back into distant memory, that seem to occur as one gets older. Consulting an old Oxford Book of English Verse yesterday to check the exact words of another poem, I accidentally came across the Dunbar poem close to the start of the book (where you find the Chaucer and Chaucer-style works). I instantly recognised the name of the poet and the words of the poem. A rousing melody that went with the words then came into my head. I can only surmise that this is an old CH experience that is resurfacing -- seeing that the city in question is the City of London. Did we sing this or perform it at CH? Could this have been something that a house choir (Maine A in my case) performed in one of the house choir contests? I clearly remember that this poem is what taught me the meaning of 'per se', which figures in the first line. I recall being very amused (in the earlier experience) by one of the lines in the poem about London's women: "London.....Of most delectable lusty ladies bright"!

I am intrigued by having such good recall of a musical setting of this poem and just wonder why my memory of it is so strong. I did this week have a wonderful (58 years on) reunion with an Old Blue from my era and my house who was passing through Penang. Maybe this helped to unblock some old memory files in my brain!
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