Two Songs of Solitude (2017)
SSATB a cappella
*Second-prize winner, 2018 NOTUS Composition Contest
Text by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
The Crystal Gazer
I shall gather myself into myself again,
I shall take my scattered selves and make them one,
I shall fuse them into a polished crystal ball
Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun.
I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent,
Watching the future come and the present go--
And the little shifting pictures of people rushing
In tiny self-importance to and fro.
Let them think I love them more than I do,
Let them think I care, though I go alone,
If it lifts their pride, what is it to me
Who am self-complete as a flower or a stone?
It is one to me that they come or go
If I have myself and the drive of my will,
And strength to climb on a summer night
And watch the stars swarm over the hill.
My heart has grown rich with the passing of years,
I have less need now than when I was young
To share myself with every comer,
Or shape my thoughts into words with my tongue.
There is a sense of philosophical peace that can only be gained when you learn to really live with yourself and your shortcomings. I believe we all struggle in some way - whether we admit it to ourselves or not - with that simple push and pull: the need for social acceptance and human interaction, versus the desire to utterly retreat into one’s self. While it may take a lifetime to find some sort of balance, I believe Two Songs of Solitude offers, with beautiful clarity of language, a glimpse into how that balance might be manifested. Although its title may initially suggest loneliness, the poem is an assertive, defiant - but not angry - declaration of an individual’s wholeness that exists entirely separate from anyone else. The speaker is coming from a meditative place deep within their mind - one that is admirably rife with self-acceptance, trust, and faith in their own future potential. As such, the music reflects this meditative yet spirited place in the repetition of wordless lines and textures which are interspersed with energetic declarations of the individual.