Cummings’ Suite (A Song Cycle for High Voice and Piano based on the poetry of E.E. Cummings) was composed during the autumn of 2006. Commissioned by American soprano, Janeanne Houston, the cycle is warmly dedicated to her. Though the poetry for the five-movement comes from various periods in the creative life of the American poet, E.E. Cummings, the cycle is held together by two pitches that are Mr. Cummings’ initials, “E” and “C.” Durations of each song are as follows: 1. ca. 2’; 2 ca. 2’ 30”; 3. ca. 1’ 30”; 4. ca. 2’ 30”; 5. ca. 2’ Total duration = ca. 10 minutes.
1. i thank You God +
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
2. You shall sing my songs +
You shall sing my songs, O earth.
With tilted lips and dancing throat shall you sing them,
The songs my poems.
You shall dream my dreams, O world.
Locked in the shining house of beautiful sleep.
Of the dreams my poems.
You shall smile my smile, love.
My eyes, my eyes have stroked the bird of your soul,
The bird my poems.
3. dive for dreams +
dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at this wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for god likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
4. there are so many tictoc +
there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic
Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly
we do not
wind it up has not weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.
(So, when kiss Spring comes
we’ll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don’t make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to
5. you shall above all things be glad and young +
you shall above all things be glad and young.
For if you’re young, whatever life you wear
it will become you; and if you are glad
whatever’s living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love
whose any mystery makes every man’s
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time
that you should ever think, may god forbid
and(in his mercy)your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies, the foetal grave
called progress, and negation’s dead undoom.
I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
+ All five poems from COMPLETE POEMS : 1904-1962 by E.E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage,
Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1923, 1925, 1926, 1931, 1935, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 by the Trustees for the E.E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1973, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1991 by George James Firmage.