NewMusicShelf Anthology of New Music: Baritone, Vol. 1

Tesch-Muller, Margaret: There is a Solemn Wind Tonight

from Voices of a Northern Year

There is a solemn wind to-night
That sings of solemn rain;
The trees that have been quiet so long
Flutter and start again.

The slender trees, the heavy trees,
The fruit trees laden and proud,
Lift up their branches to the wind
That cries to them so loud.

The little bushes and the plants
Bow to the solemn sound,
And every tiniest blade of grass
Shakes on the quiet ground.

— Katherine Mansfield

Leisner, David: The Two Trees

from O Love Is the Crooked Thing

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the wingèd sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile,
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.

— William Butler Yeats

Weiser, Mark Lanz: Looking Back at Spring

I first saw her in a tree in Philadelphia,
An Oak I think,
She placed a ladder on the huge old trunk
And climbed four horizontal branches high.
She was sitting astride the branch,
Long legs dangling in the air,
Her back resting against the trunk.

She was reading Greek.

The tree in a small university park surrounded by
Old and learned looking
Academic buildings covered with ivy.
Traffic noise of clopping horses drawing carts, wagons and cabs
Mixed with a few noisy backfiring automobiles.
But it was peaceful there.
A small piece of a rural dream.
I yearned to walk with her
Into woods that seem to never end.
In woods of many trees
Where we can leave our grounded self behind
Taking only our beautiful selves into the trees under their high canopy.
She may chose to leave her Greek behind in the meadow where we enter the
woods.

I caught her eye.

She waved and motioned for me to climb.
I was afraid.
My fantasies are mostly on more solid footing,
This boy walked on city streets and played ball in school yards.
This boy found solace sitting by the rushing creek
Falling powerfully over rocky falls
Noisily rushing to join the salty ocean.
All identity lost.
But I climbed
To get closer to her tall and slender youth, slightly mussed hair, long fingered
hands.
We would get to the woods later.

Don’t look down.

I clung tightly to the trunk.
She laughed at my fear.

Later we walked in familiar woods,
Talking for hours of poetry and Europe,
America and medicine,
Of men and of women,
Of the gods and of Socrates,
Until the sun set
And twilight began to turn toward night.
We entered the meadow where her Greek text lay.

I held her hand.

Hands
Hold and touch
As no other body part
Can do.

Gently touching across the meadow to the house.
One night and she was gone.
Her family went away with her to England.
I never saw her again.

I pursued her for years in other forms.
A wife,
She read French and bore my children.
Lovers with many names,
All began as her, then transformed into themselves.

Guilt accumulates.

Guilt sinks its owner into a silence
Exaggerating self loathing
In the pursuit of the tree, the meadow and the woods on
That one night.

Hands
Hold and touch
As no other body part
Can do.

Pursue one night.
Desperately
In silence.

— Conrad Weiser

Hsu, Chia-Yu: Whispers of Heavenly Death

Whispers of heavenly death murmur’d I hear,
Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals,
Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes wafted soft and low,
Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flowing, forever flowing,
(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human
tears?)

I see, just see skyward, great cloud-masses,
Mournfully slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing,
With at times a half-dimm’d sadden’d far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

(Some parturition rather, some solemn immortal birth;
On the frontiers to eyes impenetrable,
Some soul is passing over.)

— Walt Whitman

Owens, Gabrielle Rosse: The Water is Wide

from Three Folk Songs

The water is wide, I cannot get over
Neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

I leaned my back against an oak
Thinking it was a trusty tree
But first it bent and then it broke
So did my love prove false to me

— Traditional

Haxo, Cara: Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I lov’d, I lov’d alone.
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that ‘round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

— Edgar Allan Poe

Stafylakis, Harry: This Living Hand

from The Keats Cycle

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calm’d–see here it is–
I hold it towards you.

— John Keats

Molloy, Ryan: Innisfail

They came from a land beyond the sea,
And now o’er the western main
Set sail, in their good ships, gallantly,
From the sunny land of Spain.
“Oh, where’s the isle we’ve seen in dreams,
Our destined home or grave?”
Thus sung they as, by the morning’s beams,
They swept the Atlantic wave.

And lo, where afar o’er ocean shines
A sparkle of radiant green,
As though in that deep lay emerald mines,
Whose light through the wave was seen.
“‘Tis Innisfail — ’tis Innisfail!”
Rings o’er the echoing sea;
While, bending to heaven, the warriors hail
That home of the brave and free.

Then turn’d they unto the Eastern wave,
Where now their Day-God’s eye
A look of such sunny omen gave
As lighted up sea and sky.
Nor frown was seen through sky or sea,
Nor tear o’er leaf or sod,
When first on their Isle of Destiny
Our great forefathers trod.

— Thomas Moore

McCullough, Allen: The Happiest Day, The Happiest Hour

from Edgar Allan Poe Cycle

The happiest day–the happiest hour
My sear’d and blighted heart hath known,
The highest hope of pride and power,
I feel hath flown.

Of power! said I? yes! such I ween;
But they have vanish’d long, alas!
The visions of my youth have been–
But let them pass.

And, pride, what have I now with thee?
Another brow may even inherit
The venom thou hast pour’d on me
Be still, my spirit!

The happiest day–the happiest hour
Mine eyes shall see–have ever seen,
The brightest glance of pride and power,
I feel–have been:

But were that hope of pride and power
Now offer’d with the pain
Even then I felt–that brightest hour
I would not live again:

For on its wing was dark alloy,
And, as it flutter’d–fell
An essence–powerful to destroy
A soul that knew it well.

— Edgar Allan Poe

Bussey, Martin: Mr. Hancock's Letter

from Garden Songs

Sir,
I receiv’d your letter and basket of flowers per Captain Morris, and have desired
Francis Wilks Esquire to pay you Twenty Six Pounds for them
Though they are Ev’ry one Dead!
The Trees I receiv’d last year are above half dead too,
The Hollys all Dead but one, and worse than all is the Garden Seeds
and Flower Seeds which you sold Mister Wilks
for me and charged me
Six Pounds Four Shillings and Tuppence (Sterling)
Were not worth one farthing.
None of the seeds came up,
So that my Garden is Lost for me this Year.
I tried the seeds both in Town and Country and all proved alike bad.
I spared Mister Hubbard part of them and they
All served him the Same.
I think Sir you have not done well by me in this thing, for me to send
One Thousand leagues and Lay out my money and be so used and
Disappointed is very hard to Bare and so no doubt but you will consider the matter and
Send me over Some more of the Same sort of Seeds that are Good and
Charge me nothing for them, if you don’t I shall think you have imposed upon me very much
And t’will discourage me from Sending again for Trees or Seeds from you.
I conclude Your Humble Servant

Thomas Hancock.

P.S. The Tulip Roots you were pleased to make
a present of to me are all Dead as well!

— Thomas Hancock (1737)

Bond, Victoria: Art and Science

What Artistic and Scientific Experience Have in Common – Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking, and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science. If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, we are engaged in science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively as meaninful, then we are engaged in art. Common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concerns and volition.

— Albert Einstein

Wolfson, David: Pizza or Chinese

The choice for lunch that day
Was pizza or Chinese.
All that gooey cheese
Sounded good to me,
So pizza won the day.

If I hadn’t gotten pizza,
I wouldn’t have bumped into Bob,
Who offered me a job.
I would never have moved
Out to Omaha.
I would never have met Nicole.
If I hadn’t met Nicole
I would never have tried cocaine.
If I hadn’t tried cocaine
I would never have lost my job.
If I hadn’t lost my job
I would never have lost my house.
I would never have tried
To rob that Jimmy-John’s.
I would never have come to jail.
I would never have come to Jesus
If I hadn’t felt like cheese for lunch that day.

I wonder what kind of life
Came with Chinese…

— David Wolfson

Felsenfeld, Daniel: You Want a Social Life, With Friends

ou want a social life, with friends.
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What’s true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.

There isn’t time enough, my friends–
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends–
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the Ceiling
But did he go to parties at day’s end?

Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his Girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly anything at all.

— Kenneth Koch

Wheeler, Scott: Commuter Buddhist

I’m learning to be a Buddhist in my car,
listening to a book on tape. One problem
is that, before I’ve gotten very far,

my mind gradually becomes aware
that it has stopped listening, straying from
the task of becoming a Buddhist in my car.

I’m also worried that listening will impair
my driving, as the package label cautions,
but I haven’t noticed that, at least so far.

In fact, I may be driving with more care.
There’s a sensation of attentive calm
that’s part of becoming a Buddhist in your car.

A soothing voice drones on until the car
is transformed into a capsule of wisdom
traveling at high speed, and you feel far

from anywhere but where you really are …
which is nowhere, really. The biggest problem
is getting the Buddhism out of your car
and into your life. I’ve failed at that so far.

— Jeffrey Harrison

Wharton, Philip: Rum Tum Tiddy-Um

from Blooms Remembered

Rum tiddy um,
tiddy um,
tiddy um tum tum.
My knees are loose-like, my feet want to sling their selves.
I feel like tickling you under the chin-honey-and a-asking: Why Does a Chicken Cross the Road?
When the hens are a-laying eggs, and the roosters pluck-pluck-put-akut and you-honey-put new potatoes and gravy on the table, and there ain’t too much rain or too little:
Say, why do I feel so gabby?
Why do I want to holler all over the place?
I ask you for white blossoms.
I bring a concertina after sunset under the apple trees.
I bring out “The Spanish Cavalier” and “In the Gloaming, O My Darling.”

— Carl Sandburg

Salerni, Paul: Alley Cat Love Songs

from Bad Pets

Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I’ll wait by the screen door till dawn.

The fireflies court in the sweetgum tree.
The nightjar calls from the pine,
And she seems to say in her rhapsody,
“Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!”
The full moon lights my whiskers afire,
And the fur goes erect on my spine.

I hear the frogs in the muddy lake
Croaking from shore to shore.
They’ve one swift season to soothe their ache.
In autumn they sing no more.
So ignore me now, and you’ll hear my meow
As I scratch all night at the door.

— Dana Gioia

Davis, D. Edward: merman

from two songs

He loves the salt inside me.
Cures my grieving with an unguent
made from starfish limbs and foam.

He trolls oceanic depths,
tidepools I cannot enter.
His silhouette stains a scrim of clouds.

I enter through his singing,
ancient chords, discordant tones.
Myth still intact, I surrender.

No one marks my vigils,
nights I give over to scrying
over piers and jetties.

I write my name on currents
of ocean water and wait
for my lover to surface.

— Gerard Wozek

Moore, Ben: Love Remained

from Love Remained

Running that day was easier than it had ever been
Barefoot
Impressions in the sand chasing us
My legs taking over for my frozen mouth
Frozen despite the endless sun on our naked torsos
Free
But anxious.
He ran for fun
I ran to buy yet more time
Was this the time?
Could it finally be now?
The Diamond loomed over-Head
Jagged and large.
It was a secret kept for years,
Now the yearning to be known
The delicate dance of a brother’s bond
Ending with the words,
“I am with you no matter what”
They ring in the salt scented air
Acceptance burned away the last of my icy fears
And all that remained between us
Was love.

— Michael Kelly

Urquhart, Craig: Among the Multitude

from Leaves

Among the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows me.

Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.

Magin, Carrie: Mnemosyne

Take off my gown, let down my fiery hair,
do with me what you’ve wanted, have your will.
Nothing will change though you possess me whole.
All you engender in me time will kill.
Time the assassin shadow at the door
that sniggered as you entered, time the sill
on which you set your watch just now, the wall
you lean against, the ceiling and the floor.
Time is the house you’re born in and it’s here
we’ll burn to the bittersweetened end, my dear.
The rafters are lit already, see the fire
lick at the sheets I lie inside. Don’t fear,
the flames won’t touch you, we’ve been through this before
night after night. You know my name, remember?

— Todd Hearon