Four prairie songs of Sandburg (Peter Bird)

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  • CPDL #25786:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Peter Bird (submitted 2012-03-18).   Score information: Letter, 39 pages, 375 kB   Copyright: CC BY SA
Edition notes: Texts and piano part are included at the end of the single PDF file. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.

General Information

Title: Four prairie songs of Sandburg
Composer: Peter Bird

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: Piano

Published: 2012

Description: Length: 3:50 + 2:25 + 2:15 + 3:30 = 12 minutes.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Poems (or excerpts from poems) of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967):

1. Prairie
(first & last lines of Cornhuskers: Prairie)

I WAS born on the prairie and the milk of its wheat, the red of its clover, the eyes of its women, gave me a song and a slogan.
O prairie mother, I am one of your boys.
I have loved the prairie as a man with a heart shot full of pain over love.
Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much as one more sunrise or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water.
I speak of new cities and new people.
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down,
a sun dropped in the west.
I tell you there is nothing in the world
only an ocean of to-morrows,
a sky of to-morrows.
I am the brother of the cornhuskers who say
at sundown:
To-morrow is a day.

2. The Smoke of Autumn
(last lines from Cornhuskers: Three Pieces on the Smoke of Autumn)

I lean on an ash and watch the lights fall, the red ember glow, and three muskrats swim west in a fan of ripples on a sheet of river gold.
Better the blue silence and the gray west,
The autumn mist on the river,
And not any hate and not any love,
And not anything at all of the keen and the deep:
Only the peace of a dog head on a barn floor,
And the new corn shoveled in bushels
And the pumpkins brought from the corn rows,
Umber lights of the dark,
Umber lanterns of the loam dark.

Here a dog head dreams.
Not any hate, not any love.
Not anything but dreams.
Brother of dusk and umber.

3. Loam
(Cornhuskers: Loam)

IN the loam we sleep,
In the cool moist loam,
To the lull of years that pass,
And the break of stars.

From the loam, then,
The soft warm loam,
We rise:
To shape of rose leaf,
Of face and shoulder.

We stand, then,
To a whiff of life,
Lifted to the silver of the sun
Over and out of the loam
A day.

[Cornhuskers, Henry Holt, NY, 1918 (Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 1919)]

4. Windflower Leaf

This flower is repeated
out of old winds, out of
old times.

The wind repeats these, it
must have these, over and
over again.

Oh, windflowers so fresh,
Oh, beautiful leaves, here
now again.

The domes over
fall to pieces.
The stones under
fall to pieces.
Rain and ice
wreck the works.
The wind keeps, the windflowers
keep, the leaves last,
The wind young and strong lets
these last longer than stones.

[American Poetry 1922: A Miscellany, Harcourt Brace & Co., NY, 1922]