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The Grey Ship (from ‘Maoriland’)

for voice and piano

Year:  1915

Year:  1915

Films, Audio & Samples

Alice Forrester Mackay: Thr...

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One of six songs from Alice Mackay's 'Maoriland' cycle (see also, 'Te whenua kura' and 'A Bush Song'), which shows a particular empathy for the plight of Maori.

There are a huge number of patriotic songs and marches written by New Zealand composers during the First World War. Most are nationalistic or jingoistic, but this song written ‘On the Departure of the N.Z. Expeditionary Force, October 1914’ is something different and reflects perhaps a more realistic view of the women left behind. While the music itself may seem to be a slightly trite popular waltz song, it becomes something else when attached to the trenchant words by Jessie Mackay, the contradiction of words and music producing an eerie effect. There are later manuscript copies of the ‘Maoriland’ cycle that omit the song.

Text note

Words by Jessie Mackay (1864 – 1938)