Yeats’ early poetry shows the influence of the ‘Celtic Renaissance’, where the poems centre on Irish mythology and legend.

  1. He gives his beloved certain rhymes
  2. He wishes for the cloths of heaven (Fig.G)
  3. He hears the cry of the sedge (Fig. K)

The work opens with a wordless choral suggestion of a gentle breeze. The three poems run without a break, and textural vocal chord clustering highlights certain key words: sleep, dreams, golden, silver and softly.

The piano provides more than just an accompaniment. It is largely generated by a serial row (albeit a ‘tonal’ one: F A C B G# C# D D# F# Bflat G E where notes 1-5 deliberately suggest both a major and minor triad, and notes 10-12 imply its dominant seventh). The accompaniment, whilst underpinning the choral music, also supplies continuity throughout the three settings with motivic cross references.

Whilst largely tonal overall, the sense of key in the work concludes ambivalently. As at the very opening the major/minor ambiguity and the underpinning of keyless serialism mirrors the poet’s vulnerability when revealing his hopes and dreams to his beloved.