I Saw a Peacock With a Fiery Tail (2012)


I Saw a Peacock was selected for inclusion in VocalEssence’s Essentially Choral Workshops in 2013.

It was premiered in St. Paul, MN by VocalEssence with Philip Brunelle conducting.

It has been performed by Triad: Boston’s Choral Collective and the Vocális Chamber Choir.

Vocális will perform the piece in Merkin Hall in New York City on October 8, 2016.


     for SSAATTBB choir

Words are anonymous

(17th century)

Duration: 4.5 minutes

To buy the music from Swirly Music, click here.


I saw a peacock with a fiery tail

I saw a blazing comet drop down hail

I saw a cloud with ivy circled round

I saw an oak creep on the ground

I saw an ant swallow up a whale

I saw a raging sea that was brimful of ale

I saw a Venice glass fifteen feet deep

I saw a well full of men's tears that weep

I saw red eyes all in a flame of fire

I saw a house as big as the moon and higher

I saw the sun in the midst of night

I saw the man that saw this wondrous sight.


I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail is a setting of an anonymous seventeenth-century riddle poem.  At first, it seems not to make sense:  How can a comet drop down hail?  How can a house be as big as the moon?  Closer reading illuminates the poem’s secret – the poem must be read with a break in the middle of each line.  This choral piece presents the poem as one first reads it, with magical and fantastical images, and links the end of each line with the following line, making clear the meaning of the poem.  

To listen to more choral music by Caroline Mallonée, click here.


To buy the music from Swirly Music, click here.