Fitzwilliam Museum: The Listening Lions

Michael Rosen, the poet and writer and broadcaster, has written a wonderful poem commissioned by Historyworks for Cambridge children called "The Listening Lions" about the four monumental stone lions that sit either side of the main door to The Fitzwilliam Museum on Trumpington Street.  Scroll down to find the poem and accompanying songs.

Creating My Cambridge invites you to compose your own pieces, songs, raps, poems, dramas, stories inspired by the stone lions - what they may see and hear - reclining by the steps of the Museum for almost two hundred years. 

To help your getting creative we have some historical information in the HISTORIES section on this website here:   http://www.creatingmycambridge.com/history-stories/lions-fitzwilliam-museum/

We've asked the composer Kirsty Martin to compose some rounds using Michael Rosen's words about the lions which will be for the participating primary singers to learn, especially the one called "The Fitz Trip Trap" .  There are scores and lyrics and sound files to help with this set out in the sections of sub pages below.  Also, there is the wonderful song using all the words in Michael Rosen's poem called "The Listening Lions" which has been composed by Kirsty Martin and scored by Colin Douglas.  Enjoy! 

Also, Historyworks has grouped some photographic illustrations of the lions and Michael Rosen here:

 


Unison - The Fitz Trip Trap Round

Kirsty Martin has composed a fun round based on the refrain "Trip Trap Clamber Amble or Run" which we've called "The Fitz Trip Trap".  In the first version, this is set out in the sound file and score to be sung by unision voices.

Please find on this page the following resource for the song called The Fitz Trip Trap Round - based on a poem by Michael Rosen, composed by Kirsty Martin, scored by Colin Douglas, Produced by Helen Weinstein, Commissioned by Historyworks

1. Score

2. Audio to learn the song by ear

3. Lyrics for the Song

Please also find below the lyrics, instructions for how to sing as a round in unison.  Below there is also the more complex version with the same words and rhythm, but the round in two part harmony - have fun! 

Score 

The Fitz Trip Trap Round - Unison Voice PDF

Audio for Round called The Fitz Trip Trap - for Unison voices

Based on a poem by Michael Rosen, composed by Kirsty Martin, scored by Colin Douglas, produced by Helen Weinstein, Commission by Historyworks.

 

Song Lyrics for The Fitz Trip Trap:

Trip-trap, Amble, Clamber or Run

We are the Listening Lions!  ROAR! 

Guide to Singing as a Round/ to match the Audio version for Unison Voices:

1. Please use the lyrics & practice in unison - before breaking into 3 groups for the round! 
 
2. The first three times is the ‘simple’ round, with the round parts coming in after ‘amble’
 
3. The last time is the ‘complex’ round, with the parts coming in after ‘trip trap’ - makes it busier and jazzier

Michael Rosen's Poem

Here is an audio file of Michael Rosen reading his poem "The Listening Lions", recorded for the Cycle of Songs project by Historyworks.  You can also read about Michael's thoughts on writing the poem.

POEM by Michael Rosen called THE LISTENING LIONS:

We hear your feet on the steps of the Fitz
trip-trap, amble, clamber or run
We hear you complain of wind and rain
We hear you laugh when you see the sun.

We hear you talk of war and peace
voices that come, voices that go
we hear of pockets full or empty
what you say is what we know.

We hear lovers’ whispers as you walk by
and sighs of sadness from deep inside
We hear sounds of fear in how you breathe
the hug of hope and the smile of pride.

We hear you wonder about our eyes
We hear you study our hard stone faces.
We hear you wonder if we slumber
like lions after hunting in far-off places.

We hear our dreams of other times
not then, or now, or here, or there
We hear a dream of how we rise
and breathe in the living air.

And we all four together as lions
walk the street, none last or first
to find the water that is ours
to help us quench this terrible thirst.

©Michael Rosen 2014


Michael Rosen on writing the poem

 

"As you can hear, I've written the poem pretending to be the lions. Perhaps they are talking 'in chorus' - all four of them talking together. Poems and songs are very good for letting you into the minds of people. Plays, musicals and operas do it as soliloquies, arias and solos. Poems and songs are sometimes in effect soliloquies, arias and solos without all the drama around them!
So, back with the four lions. I heard about the story of them getting up at night and going to drink from the gutters.  I thought it was interesting that they look as if they're asleep. Then I thought about them dreaming. What would very old lions be dreaming about? And what would they hear as they sit there, day after day, year after year, rain and sun?
So that set of ideas started to mix and mingle in my mind and if you read and write poems a lot, lines from other poems come into your head as you're writing. In this case, it was almost as if other lions from other places were saying to me, 'And don't forget us!'  This is good for writing poems too because, in this case, it makes the lions at the Fitzwilliam Museum become part of other lions in art and history - as if they know each other. Anyway, some people reading the poem might recognise me mentioning these lions from another poem or two. It's like a code that only the lions know!
And people who write poems are often interested in taking familiar things and saying surprising, unfamiliar things about them. We do that because we're trying to see the world in a new way. So, there were times when I was writing this, I had familiar ways of writing about familiar things and it was too ordinary, so I shook it up and made it more strange. 
Michael Rosen
Another things that poets often try to do is not 'over-explaining' things. We try to leave things a bit mysterious, or with room for the reader to wonder why or how. Sometimes, we can't stop ourselves doing this because of course we don't have all the answers ourselves. Poetry is a good place to pose questions that we can't answer. So, for example, I got the idea that the lions would be thirsty. That's a very real feeling that humans have. But we also talk about being, say, 'thirsty' for knowledge. So we use 'thirsty' as a metaphor in everyday life. And I thought of the lions hearing so much and knowing so much of the way of the world and how their thirst would be both real and and metaphorical. So what else are they thirsty for? To tell you the truth, you would know as much about that as me. Really. And if the last words of a poem are mysterious enough, they'll encourage people to go back over a poem to find out why the poet may have written those words. Re-reading brings out all sorts of new things. I think most poets would be very pleased if they heard that the way they had written encouraged people to go back over the poem.
Thanks for reading this and the poem. It has given me enormous pleasure to work with Helen Weinstein after so many years of association, and to make concrete our shared passion for disseminating our curiosity of the past, of objects, of words, and we hope that whenever you walk past a stone animal you wonder who created them, how long they've been there, and what they have witnessed and heard over the years...."
Helen Weinstein and Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen is a poet, novelist, broadcaster, and journalist. He was the the fifth British Children's Laureate from June 2007 to June 2009 and has recently been appointed as Professor of Children's Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. His radio work includes BBC Radio 4's 'Word of Mouth' amongst other other programmes. His books include 'Hairy Tales and Nursery Crimes', 'William Morris, Poems of Protest', 'Fluff the Farting Fish', 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt', 'Send for a Superhero', 'Aesop’s Fables', 'Wolfman', and his most recent book is 'Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story' (John Murray, 2013). 
To learn more about the poem that Michael has written please click here.
To visit Michael's website you can click here, and for a complete list of books up to and including 2012 you can click here
Michael Rosen launching Children's Book Week, 2008

 


The Fitz Lion Round - Song lyrics & Audio & Score for Round

The Fitz Lion Round 

The introductory song is a round based on the main concept of the poem, which is called "The Fitz Lion Round". This is for voices singing in unison and singers can be divided into one or two or three parts.  The score shows where each part can come in, and you can also listen to it and learn by ear.

Please find on this page the following resource for the song called The Fitz Lions - based on a poem by Michael Rosen, composed by Kirsty Martin, scored by Colin Douglas, Produced by Helen Weinstein, Commissioned by Historyworks

1. Score

2. Audio to learn the song by ear

3. Lyrics for the Song

SCORE

The Fitz Lion Round -Unison Voices PDF

AUDIO - to learn the song by ear

Lyrics for "The Fitz Lion Round":

We are the Listening Lions

We hear you walking the steps of the Fitz

Your voices come and go

What you say is what we know


Harmony - The Fitz Trip Trap Round

THE FITZ TRIP TRAP ROUND FOR 3 PART HARMONY VOICES

This is a good round to learn once students have learnt the Unison version of The Fitz Trip Trap Round! 

Guide to Singing to match the Audio version & Score for Harmony Voices:

The harmony comes in after everyone has sung the refrain in unison - this is reflected in the score.
 
The arrangement is:
Unison x 1
3 part harmony not as round x 1
Round in Unison x 2
 
 

Score

The Fitz Trip Trap Round - Harmony voices PDF

Audio for version of Round called The Fitz Trip Trap for 3 part Harmony Voices:

Based on a poem by Michael Rosen, composed by Kirsty Martin, scored by Colin Douglas, Produced by Helen Weinstein, Commission by Historyworks  


The Listening Lions Song - Audio & Score & Lyrics for Full Choir

THE LISTENING LIONS SONG - AUDIO & SCORE & LYRICS

The last score and sound files which Kirsty Martin has composed uses all the verses of Michael Rosen's lion poem. You will find the lyrics, score, and sound files in these resources as the last song.  It is called "The Listening Lions" and it uses the elements of the rounds and builds these into a more complex piece.  This is set out in sound files for singers to learn -  part 1 is for high voices, part 2 is for mid voices, and part 3 is for low voices.  The score shows how the rounds and the verses for 3 parts come together.

Please find on this page the following resource for the song called The Listening Lions Song- based on a poem by Michael Rosen, composed by Kirsty Martin, scored by Colin Douglas, Produced by Helen Weinstein, Commissioned by Historyworks

1. Score

2. Audio to learn the song by ear

3. Lyrics for the Song

SCORE 

The Listening Lions Song - Harmony voices PDF

Here is the AUDIO so you can listen to the song composed by Kirsty Martin based on the poem by Michael Rosen

LYRICS FOR THE LISTENING LIONS SONG

CHORUS

We are the Listening Lions

We hear you walking the steps of the Fitz

Your voices come and go

What you say is what we know

REFRAIN

Trip-trap, amble, clamber or run

We are the Listening Lions - ROAR! 

VERSE 1

We hear your feet on the steps

We hear you moan about the weather

We hear you laugh when you see the sun - ROAR!

VERSE 2

We hear you talk of war and peace

We hear you pockets full or empty

what you say is what we know - ROAR!

VERSE 3

We hear you whisper, We hear you sigh

We hear the hug of hope and the smile of pride

We hear the hug of hope and the smile of pride

VERSE 4

We hear you studying our faces

We hear you wonder if we slumber

Like lions hunting in far-off places - ROAR!

VERSE 5

And we are dreaming of other times

We hear a dream of how we rise

and breathe in the living air - ROAR!

VERSE 6

And we all four together 

walk the street, none last or first

to find the water 

to help us quench this terrible thirst - ROAR! 

Fitzwilliam Museum: The Listening Lions

 

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