Five Poems of Beautiful things

for soprano, violoncello, and piano                           Texts by Jessica Stein

I. Awaken

Who am I that I should wake

to the summons of bells calling
the hungry people to sustenance
light crowding the golden trees
and warm shapes of cool round
air fluttering my eyelids
filling my ears with birdsong?

Out there it is brimming over
yellow and blue as I dress
quietly, spilling over too.

Vignette I: Rain Poem I. 

Go out.                                                                      
the world is wild and wet                                         
so shall you be too.

II. On Death

and the cruelest fact of them all                               
is the inevitable one,                                  

It came whispering first                                        
And then like ever the waves truth pounding          
— all the gaping holes that shall be left                 
till we are too long gone                                          
to be ever remembered more.                                 
till we have learned the saying                          
be not proud”                                                
through vale of tears                                                  
in dismal three AM’s.

Vignette II: Rain Poem III.

Spread wings, white bird, mount, fly                        
In bright defiance of the sky                                    
As I would do if you were I.

III. After the Storm

I cannot write it so bluntly in pen                         
there are some things that come                         
sweetly and suddenly and gently                         
and this time I must write it so—                          
with the soft lines of lead.                                       

My darling, one day over the green fields we shall run
and our hearts shall be at ease                              
and our feet shall turn the golden earth round    
our eyes shall be full of astonishment                  
and our tongues full of laughter                            
and the darkness shall be far away                        
for the throated song of the yellow birds will be       
strong as the warmth of the sunset light            
clean as the fall of the evening rain                      
and you shall kiss me unafraid.

Five Poems of Beautiful Things was a collaborative effort with a dear friend of mine, Jessica Stein. After being thoroughly moved by her poetry I asked her to send me more and if she would be interested in working together to turn her words into a song cycle. The Result was three larger poems about larger things in life and two about smaller things that make up our daily lives. "Awaken" is about the the beauty and majesty and wonder of life, "On Death" is about the tragedy and pain of loss of life, and "After the Storm" is about beauty out of pain and the hope of things far in the future. These three are offset by two poems from her set of 5 "Rain Poems". These are shorter vignettes to demonstrate the beauty of little things in life, like rain. The piece is written for soprano, violoncello, and piano. Each instrument plays a different role in the musical journey. the soprano serves as the orator or the mind, the cello plays the part of the soul or spirit of the mind, and the piano creates the world in which these two live.