The boat is chafing (1920) is taken from the ‘pantomime’ entitled Scaramouch in Naxos
by the Scottish playwright and translator John Davidson (1857–1909). His plays were published in 1894 with a frontispiece by Aubrey Beardsley. Perhaps when Gurney composed this song about setting off in a boat for ‘a land unknown’ he was aware that Davidson, impoverished and mentally ill at the end of his life, had committed suicide by drowning himself at sea at Penzance.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2012