spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer


The Marshes of Glynn

"As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a house on the greatness of God..."

Steven Darsey has been studying the poetry of Sidney Lanier since 1986, when after his arrival in Atlanta, the late congressman James A. Mackay introduced him to the works of this great poet. When Meridian Herald was founded in 1997, it adopted Steven's goal of setting "The Marshes of Glynn" to music. Over these years, he did research in the special collections of the libraries of Atlanta, Savannah and Brunswick, as well as Johns Hopkins University which holds Lanier's papers. He collected Lanier editions and read articles and biographies. He analyzed the poem and worked through Lanier's book on prosody The Science of English Verse, and applied Lanier's own analytic techniques to "The Marshes of Glynn." He spent time on the Maryland coast near Point Lookout where Lanier was imprisoned during the Civil War, as well as much time camping near and exploring the Georgia marshes. He found the house where Lanier stayed in Brunswick, and followed the eastern course Lanier walked through the live oak forest to the marshes of Glynn, the course portrayed in the poem. There, he spent important time under the very live oak that gave Lanier the inspiring vista of the marshes, looking toward the terminal sea—the tree now known as the Lanier Oak.

Paideia choir

The Marshes of Glynn

In November of 2007, after years of study, poetic analysis, and compositional-architectural planning, he began writing music, completing a draft in January, 2008. On March 2, 2008, the Chancel Choir of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church and the Meridian Chorale gave a performance reading in the Glenn sanctuary on the Emory University campus. Scored for orchestra, soloists and divisi chorus, this performance used a reduced orchestration for piano and organ. Soloists were Cynthia Watters, Katherine Murray, Timothy Miller and Stephen Ozcomert. Todd Skrabanek played piano and Timothy Albrecht, organ. Steven Darsey conducted.

The summer of 2009, he spent three weeks at Shellman's Bluff on the Georgia coast, on a dock in the Julienton River, and a week on Ossabaw Island, composing new instrumental music and completing the orchestration for the entire work. Now the work is ready for performance.

For his work on Georgia's Ossabaw Island on this composition, he was named the Sandy West Ossabaw Fellow for 2010. He is grateful to the board of Meridian Herald, to many friends, most notably Sally Sears Belcher and the late John K. Davidson III for signal support, to Glenn Church for giving him time away, and to God for the vision and vouchsafing world and time.

Steven Darsey's "The Marshes of Glynn" is scored for SATB soloists, divisi chorus and orchestra. Forty minutes in length, through a complex matrix of solos, choruses, musical forms and modalities, yet with a transparency that sounds the coastal seascape, the work shares the intimacy, plumbs the profundity, and magnifies the power of Lanier's ideas, all while honoring the beauty of the poetry.

The lion's share of the writing was done at retreats, whose space was donated or funded by friends:

Rising Faun, GA, many times - James A. Mackay
Ossabaw Island, 11/7/02 - Sally Sears Belcher and the Ossabaw Island Foundation
Chesapeake Bay, 12/27/04 - Jane and Dennis McAuliffe
Fort McAlister State Park, GA, 8/13/05 - Meridian Herald
Ossabaw Island, 10/8/06 - Sally Sears Belcher and the Ossabaw Island Foundation
Brunswick Island, 12/30/06 - Meridian Herald
West Yellowstone, Montana, 8/26/07 - Jane and Wayne Thorpe
Hunting Island, SC, 10/26/07 - Meridian Herald
New York City, 12/27/06 - Meridian Herald
Chesapeake Bay,1/1/07 - Jane and Dennis McAuliffe
Panama City Beach, 6/9/08 - Barbara and Jim Hund
False Cape, VA, 10/17/08 - Meridian Herald
Shellman's Bluff, 7/8/09 - May and Dick Spangler; Willis Williams
Ossabaw Island, 8/1-7/09 - Sally Sears Belcher and the Visiting Artists Program, Ossabaw Island Foundation
Ossabaw Island, 7/26-8/1/2010 - The Ossabaw Island Foundation

spacer spacer

© 2018 Meridian Herald, Inc.
542 Oakdale Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30307 | 404-525-4722 |

spacer spacer