A Parable - (2009)
Arthur Conan Doyle
for medium voice and piano
The cheese-mites asked how the cheese got there,
And warmly debated the matter;
The Orthodox said that it came from the air,
And the Heretics said from the platter.
They argued it long and they argued it strong,
And I hear they are arguing now;
But of all the choice spirits who lived in the cheese,
Not one of them thought of a cow.
[ 2 pages, circa 1' 00" ]
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, DL (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British physician and writer, famous today for the tales of Sherlock Holmes. A prolific writer of crime, science fiction, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction, he was an ophthalmologist in practice, was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey and ran twice for a seat in Parliament but was never elected. The text was first published in Songs of Action (London: Smith, Elder, 1898) as well as again in larger collections of his works.
The poem appealed to me for the fact that it is, in its own way, so completely up to date. Today's cheese-mites, the vocal proponents of secular atheism and the equally voices speaking for various version of creationism, are of the same family of man, and the problem was intractable during the author's time as it is insoluble today. The simple fact is that belief systems -- which includes those beliefs which profess no beliefs while exhibiting them full well -- wage war, one against another. In the character of Conan Doyle's "cheese-mites," the war is rather diminutive. The harmonic changes occur by measure durations and shorter, their own kind of tonal warfare, as F major seems the tonic of the vocal line while the harmonies wander away insolently.
The D flat which features in the second set of lines of the opening section yields to the key of D flat major with some lower neighbor alterations for spice. Or perhaps just cheese.
The score for A Parable is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.