music + poetry

Folk music settings of poems by W.B. Yeats, William Blake, W.H. Auden, Robinson Jeffers and others were never part of a grand plan. The rhythm and melody inherent in great poems made by master poets inspired me to find and reveal the songs already implied there, waiting to be released. The songs have emerged from the pleasure of closely reading the poems, often out loud, where the song-like qualities can breathe and shine. 

Kyle has performed the poetry songs in Ireland, New York City and California at venues such as The Hawkswell Theatre, Sligo; Symphony Space on Broadway in New York and the Irish Literary and Historical Society and the United Irish Cultural Center, both in San Francisco. 


Initially Kyle was the winner of the 2011 Y-Tunes Song Contest for his setting of Brown Penny, only to be disqualified because the song appeared on the Bee-Loud Glade recording. Not to be deterred, Kyle came back and won the 2012 contest, this time with a very different poem, mood and song. As the 2012 grand prize winner of the Y-Tunes Song Contest for his setting of Yeats' poem Those Images, Kyle was honored to perform in July 2013 at the Hawks Well Theater, Sligo, Ireland. In March 2015, at the invitation of scholar/musician Mick Moloney, Kyle performed many of the songs at New York’s Symphony Space, featuring an all-star band including Athena Tergis, Billy McComisky, Liz Hanly, Felix Dolan and Mick himself. 

Songs From Yeats’ Bee-Loud Glade

Kyle Alden’s third full-length CD features a stellar cast of musicians, including Athena Tergis (fiddle) and Mike Marshall (mandolin), playing 13 poems by W. B. Yeats, set to music. Strains of traditional American and Irish folk music can be heard in these original musical settings of Yeats' poems.  From the up-tempo Brown Penny and Valley of the Black Pig to the contemplative charm of The Mask, Lake Isle of Innisfree and Running to Paradise, this collection of folk songs manages to sound fresh yet traditional, all while keeping Yeats’ wonderful poems front and center. The album received world-wide radio airplay and rave reviews, and was on three “Best of 2011” lists among folk music DJs and critics in the U.S. It reached #8 on the Roots Music Report Folk & Roots Country Radio Charts, alongside releases by such artists as June Tabor, Laura Marling and David Bromberg. 

More Songs from Poetry

The entire collection of songs on the album Fables is made from poems: Gates of the Day, and Two Songs for the Sake of the Tune (W.B. Yeats), Mary’s Song (by Scots poet Marion Angus), Annabelle Screech (ee cummings), Rock and Hawk, Return (Robinson Jeffers), Lady Weeping at the Crossroads (W.H. Auden), Heart for Heart (anon.14th c), and Hanged Man’s Song, Moon Blues and West in the Evening (by California poet/filmmaker Aidan Stone). Down in the West Volume 1 is a combination of original songs and folk music settings of poems--A Red, Red Rose (Robert Burns), Marching Song, To an Isle in the Water, and Those Images (W.B. Yeats), Long John Brown (William Blake) and Maiden in the Moor Lay (anon. 14 c). Down in the West Volume 2 contains one song made from a poem. The opening track is from W.H. Auden’s poem, As I Walked Out





“Kyle Alden's melodies and performance rank with the most-pleasing-to-hear of any settings of W.B. Yeats I've heard. Excellent work!” --Andrew McGowan, president, W.B. Yeats Society of NY. 

"A great album--one of the best of 2011." --John Weingart, Music You Can't Hear On The Radio, Princeton, NJ 

"… your song treatments of the Yeats poems…are really, really impressive and most refreshing. By far the best musical arrangements of his poems I have ever heard. An absolute pleasure to listen to. And Athena's playing is lovely on them as well. ...extraordinary music". --Mick Moloney, Professor of Irish Studies, NYU 

"Alden has crafted a notably imaginative album. There’s persuasive power and control in the singing. The tunes and texts are well-matched and the arrangements and playing are top drawer. It’s a sharply sweet suite of songs.”--Tom Clancy, The Old Blog Node 

"…a complete and marvelous surprise. You really have made something new, fresh, relevant and compelling from this fine, but dusty old verse. There is hardly a song in the collection that won't find it's way enthusiastically to The Road Home. Thank you, thank you - well done!" --Bob Chelmick, CKUA Radio Station, Alberta, Canada 

“One of those 'maybe this shouldn’t work, but hell, it does!' discs, where San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Kyle, with help from Athena Tergis, Mike Marshall, et al, creates genuinely fresh-sounding capital from Yeats’ words, with 13 of the man’s poems rendered in an appealing folk-bluegrass-Americana idiom that proves extremely persuasive. A real grower.” -- fRoots Magazine, UK 

"If William Butler were still around he'd be humming along in some Bee Loud Glade, Guinness in hand..." --Mike Rowe, television personality, Dirty Jobs 

“Alden is a very good songwriter. The tunes sound more like American folk than anything else, with the lyrics inspiring his own native creativity rather than imitating an Irish tradition. The melodies and Alden's delivery suit the words so well that it's hard to imagine that they weren't written for each other by a single hand. … fine interplay from excellent musicians on stories that are well worth hearing.”  --Richard Price,

“…an inspired and sensitive presentation of the much-loved poems, performed with great skill and musicality… a joyful blending of word and melody. This is one of those albums I shall keep ready at hand and listen to again and again.  --Aidan O’Hara, Irish Musician Magazine, Dublin, IR 

“Fascinating and utterly disarming…by consciously avoiding conspicuous “Irishness” in his adaptations, Alden makes the emotional and spiritual qualities of Yeats’ poems seem all the more universal.”  --Sean Smith, Boston Irish Reporter 

“Here is something really new, different, and wonderful. … Highly creative and beautifully done. No one more than Yeats would appreciate an artistic endeavor of such soul and depth.” --Bill Margeson, The Irish American News, Chicago and LiveIreland, Dublin, IR 

“Songs from Yeats’ Bee-Loud Glade is an extraordinary achievement. Yeats, who died in 1939, never sounded better” --Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Jounal, San Rafael, CA