Skip to main content

David and John

David and John

Peter Tranchell – written before 1960

words only in Cambridge University Library MS.Tranchell.4.138 but no written music exists. Performed on the recording of songs made by himself c.1960; listening copy available in the UL Anderson Room CD.080.34-35 and on YouTube here.

Two young hearts that tried to beat as one
Two minds with a single thought.
But oh, how heartless Fate will have her fun,
The Gods torment men for their sport.
It seemed as if by Fate their love had begun,
like two planets mysteriously drawn near
But some false God preferred the ties undone
that might have held them dear.

David said; This is wrong. I must turn into a man.
I never should have surrendered, but resisted you when this began.
John said, in fact you
Know I attract you.
Your inmost nature will always break through. (Why struggle?)
Oh, forget this misgiving,
Or you’ll be giving up loving and living, –
And remember, I also love you.

One false idea despoiled a lifetime of bliss,
    One small opinion destroyed…
One little complex just served to prejudice
    The love they might have enjoyed.
Attention … to convention, … trying to attain
    What nature did perhaps not intend …
The feeling something’s lost one ought to regain …
    Those pointless efforts to amend.
A sense of Guilt – perhaps of uncleanliness
    made the thing too hopeless to go on.
Yes, … one little flaw in all their friendliness,
    divided David from John.

Such pain … is caused by ill-acquired secondhand ideals,
    from which we’re forbidden to depart.
In vain … we try to stifle the appeals
    of our own real nature … our own inner heart.
        No lovers … no twin brothers … no passionate friends
            more ideally suited could be found.
        They’d all the points on which a friendship depends,
            and endless common ground.
        In mood and temperament reciprocal souls
            In taste and fancy the same.
        They’d be immune from all the typical tolls
            Life takes in its ironic game.

But suddenly just as Paradise loomed near,
    The chance of bliss was lost and gone …
For deep in David woke a sickening fear,
    That parted David from John.