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Songs from “The Rain in the Trees”

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1992

  • September 8, 1992
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FOR MEDIUM OR HIGH VOICE AND PIANO

 

Dedicated to Judith Bettina and Ariana Goldsworthy

 

I. Native Trees

II. To the Insects

 

Text by W.S. Merwin

 

Premiere: February 23, 1995; Macphail Center for the Performing Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Judith Bettina, soprano; James Goldsworthy, piano

 

Duration: 7’

 

 

 

poems from The Rain in the Trees

W.S. Merwin

 

 

I. Native Trees

 

Neither my father nor my mother knew

the names of the trees

where I was born

what is that

I asked and my

father and mother did not

hear they did not look where I pointed

surfaces of furniture held

the attention of their fingers

and across the room they could watch

walls they had forgotten

where there were no questions

no voices and no shade

 

Were there trees

where they were children

where I had not been

I asked

were there trees in those places

where my father and my mother were born

and in that time did

my father and my mother see them

and when they said yes it meant

they did not remember

What were they I asked what were they

but both my father and my mother

said they never knew

 

Text © 1988 by W.S. Merwin. Reproduced by permission of Georges Borchardt Inc. for the author. All rights reserved.

 

 

II. To the Insects

 

Elders

 

we have been here so short a time

and we pretend that we have invented memory

 

we have forgotten what it is like to be you

who do not remember us

 

we remember imagining that what survived us

would be like us

 

and would remember the world as it appears to us

but it will be your eyes that will fill with light

 

we kill you again and again

and we turn into you

 

eating the forests

eating the earth and the water

 

and dying of them

departing from ourselves

 

leaving you the morning

in its antiquity

 

Text © 1988 by W.S. Merwin. Reproduced by permission of Georges Borchardt Inc. for the author. All rights reserved.

For medium or high voice and piano
7’