SSATTB with soprano soloist
Lyrics by Sara Teasdale
Embedded within our ordinary daily lives is the notion that we are both inextricably connected to and a part of nature and the world around us – and also entirely alone. Anyone who has spent time in nature, whether in remote wilderness or a city park, understands this. Even in the most contrived and extreme of human situations, such as times of war, this truth resonates. This setting of Sara Teasdale's poem begins and ends with sounds of nature that emerge between spring rain showers, and weaves this contrasting human experience into a musical setting with lush, but unresolving harmonies, which depict the internal struggle to come to terms with this knowledge.
The solo vocalese at the beginning of the piece is transcribed from a recording of an American Robin's song. It's transposed down two octaves and slowed to the pace of human song, but the outline of pitches is true to the spirit of the bird, a familiar reminder of nature in most of North America. The unpitched, rhythmic sounds produced by the choir both mimic the sounds of nature and hint at the marching rhythms of war and the artifices of humans.
Sara Teasdale (1884 - 1933), a lyric and romantic American poet, wrote the original poem, from which the text of this song is comprised. The poem was originally published in Teasdale's poetry collection, "Flame and Shadows," by Macmillan, 1920.
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
There Will Come Soft Rains
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