American Poets #1919
…whether with words or music, creations or interpretations, these artists compel our admiration.
JOHN KNOWLES PAINE: Kyrie, fr Mass in d, Op. 10. JORGE MARTIN: One Hour to Madness and Joy (world premiere). VINCENT PERSICHETTI: Celebrations (Movements 1-3, 6-7, 9) –Nicole Joy Mitchell, contralto; Michael St. Peter, tenor; Charles Kiger, percussion; Cecilia Chorus of New York/Mark Shapiro; James Kennerley (2010 Peragallo/St. Francis Xavier Church, New York, NY) PD Archive (r. 3/2/2019). This score sets four sections from Whitman’s large collection, Leaves of Grass (One hour to madness and joy – Miracles – O secret of the earth and sky – I call to thee O soul, thou actual Me!).
Filler – PERSICHETTI: Movement #5 (see above)
HORATIO PARKER: 3 Pieces (Wedding Song, Op. 20, no. 2; Melody & Intermezzo, Op. 20, no. 3; Festival Prelude, Op. 66, no. 1) —Albert Ahlstrom (1895 Müller & Abel/St. Joseph’s Church, New York, NY) Raven 340
VINCENT PERSICHETTI: Celebrations (Movements 4-5). JOHN KNOWLES PAINE: Gloria (excerpts), fr Mass in d —Nicole Joy Mitchell, contralto; Michael St. Peter, tenor; Charles Kiger, percussion; Cecilia Chorus of New York/Mark Shapiro; James Kennerley (2010 Peragallo/St. Francis Xavier Church, New York, NY) PD Archive (r. 3/2/2019)
Filler – PARKER: Festival Preludes (see above)
Texts for Jorge Martin’s One Hour to Madness and Joy
ONE HOUR TO MADNESS AND JOY
ONE hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?)
O to drink the mystic deliria deeper than any other man!
O savage and tender achings!
O the puzzle, the thrice-tied knot, the deep and dark pool, all
untied and illumin'd!
O to speed … at last!
O to have the gag remov'd from one's mouth!
O to have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am.
O to escape utterly from others' anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!
To court destruction with taunts, with invitations!
To ascend, to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me!
To rise thither with my inebriate soul!
To be lost if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.
–Leaves of Grass #22 (1900)
Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of an August forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring,
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring—yet each distinct and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same;
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships, with men in them
—what stranger miracles are there?
–Leaves of Grass #226 (1900)
O secret of the earth and sky!
Of you O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!
Of you O woods and fields! of you strong mountains of my land!
Of you O prairies! of you gray rocks!
O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!
O day and night, passage to you!
O sun and moon and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!
Passage to you!
Passage, immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins!
Away O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovel’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?
Sail forth—steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
–Leaves of Grass #183 (1900)
I CALL TO THEE
I… call to thee O soul, thou actual Me,
And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs,
Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,
And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of Space.
Greater than stars or suns,
Bounding O soul thou journeyest forth;
What love than thine and ours could wider amplify?
What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours O soul?
What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength?
What cheerful willingness for others' sake to give up all?
For others' sake to suffer all?
Reckoning ahead O soul, when thou, the time achiev'd,
The seas all cross'd, weather'd the capes, the voyage done,
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain'd,
As fill'd with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
–Leaves of Grass #183 (1900)
Texts for Vincent Persichetti’s Celebrations (1966):
1. STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?
2. I CELEBRATE MYSELF, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
3. YOU WHO CELEBRATE BYGONES!
Who have explored the outward, the surface of the
races—the life that has exhibited itself,
You have treated man as the creature of politics,
aggregates, rulers, and priests;
But now I also, arriving, contribute something:
I, an habitué of the Alleghanies, treat man as he is in
the influences of Nature, in himself, in his own
Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom
exhibited itself (the great pride of man, in himself);
Chanter of Personality, outlining a history yet to be,
I project the history of the future.
4. THERE IS THAT IN ME—I do not know what it is—but I know it is in me.
Wrench'd and sweaty—calm and cool then my body becomes,
I sleep—I sleep long.
I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for my brothers and sisters.
Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is eternal life—it is Happiness.
5. (SING ME THE UNIVERSAL)…Come, said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.
In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.
By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is
6. (FLAUNT OUT O SEA)…TO-DAY a rude brief recitative,
Of ships sailing the Seas, each with its special flag or ship-signal;
Of unnamed heroes in the ships—Of waves spreading and spreading, far as the eye can reach;
Of dashing spray, and the winds piping and blowing;
And out of these a chant, for the sailors of all nations,
Fitful, like a surge.
Of Sea-Captains young or old, and the Mates—and of all intrepid Sailors;
Of the few, very choice, taciturn, whom fate can never surprise, nor death dismay,
Pick’d sparingly, without noise, by thee, old Ocean—chosen by thee,
Thou Sea, that pickest and cullest the race, in Time, and unitest Nations!
Suckled by thee, old husky Nurse—embodying thee!
Indomitable, untamed as thee.
(Ever the heroes, on water or on land, by ones or twos appearing,
Ever the stock preserv’d, and never lost, though rare—enough for seed preserv’d.)
7. I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
8. (A CLEAR MIDNIGHT)…THIS is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes
thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
9. (VOYAGE)…Joy! Shipmate – joy!
(Pleas’d to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed – our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last – she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! Shipmate – joy!
Jorge Martin’s new score was commissioned to commemorate the bicentennial of American patriot and poet Walt Whitman (b. 5/31/1819). The works of Persichetti and Rorem also draw on Whitman texts, while those of Parker and Paine represent composers of Whitman’s era.