At the Round Earths Imagin’d Corners (1985)

Programme Note: John Buckley

At the Round Earths Imagin’d Corners for organ solo was commissioned by Ballina Arts Festival (Ireland) in 1985 and first performed there by Gerard Gillen.

The piece takes its title and inspiration from a poem of John Donne, the 17th century metaphysical poet:

‘At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, …’

The piece takes as its starting point the striking imagery, vigorous rhythms and sonorous language of Donne’s great sonnet. After the opening fanfares the music progresses through a range of colours and atmospheres. It is at times full of turmoil and strife, at times celebratory and at other times calm and reflective. This reflectiveness is especially evident at the end of the work, echoing the final lines of the poem:

‘Teach me how to repent: for that’s as good
As if thou hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.’