Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light: Isaac Rosenberg Poem to Feature in BBC’s ‘Last Night of the Proms’.

Latest (19/09/2018): A video recording of this new composition by Roxanna Panufnik which used lines from Isaac Rosenberg’s poem ‘In the Underworld’ and formed the opening performance of Last Night of the Proms 2018, can be found on the BBC’s website at:

The performance of this opening A BBC Radio 4 broadcast interviews the composers Roxanna Panufnik and Anna Meredith about their recent commissions to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One and to produce a new work for the Last Night of the Proms 2018. The work, Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light features a poem ‘In the Underworld’ by First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg and will be included in the BBC’s ‘Last Night of the Proms’ this year, as the opening item on 8th September 2018, commencing at 7.15 pm. A copy of the poem is reproduced below, although it is possible that a revised version may be used in the concert.

Listen to the Radio 4 interview here:

Isaac Rosenberg’s relative Bernard Wynick has described the inclusion of the poem in the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ as ‘fantastic’ and writes to the WPA as follows:

‘This is a great honour and a fitting tribute in the 100th.anniversary of [Isaac’s] death in action in France in the First World War.’


I have lived in the underworld so long:
How can you, a creature of light,
Without terror understand the song
And unmoved hear what moves in night?

I am a spirit that yours has found,
Strange, undelightful, obscure,
Created by some other God, and bound
In terrible darkness, breathing breath impure.

Creature of light and happiness,
Deeper the darkness was when you,
With your bright terror eddying the distress,
Grazed the dark waves and shivering further flew.

Isaac Rosenberg