Three Poems by Elinor Wylie (2014) two sopranos, guitar + bassoon
These three poems by Elinor Wylie (1885-1928) can be found in her book “Nets to Catch the Wind”. This set, which was premiered September 5th, 2014 at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, was written specifically for Amy Foote, Danielle(Reutter-Harrah) Sampson, Adam Cockerham, and Alexis Luque.
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The Eagle and the Mole
Avoid the reeking herd,
Shun the polluted flock,
Live like that stoic bird,
The eagle of the rock.
The huddled warmth of crowds
Begets and fosters hate;
He keeps above the clouds
His cliff inviolate.
When flocks are folded warm,
And herds to shelter run,
He sails above the storm,
He stares into the sun.
If in the eagle’s track
Your sinews cannot leap,
Avoid the lathered pack,
Turn from the steaming sheep.
If you would keep your soul
From spotted sight or sound,
Live like the velvet mole:
Go burrow underground.
And there hold intercourse
With roots of trees and stones,
With rivers at their source,
And disembodied bones.
I was always afraid of Somes’s Pond:
Not the little pond, by which the willow stands,
Where laughing boys catch alewives in their hands
In brown, bright shallows; but the one beyond.
There, where the frost makes all the birches burn
Yellow as cow-lilies, and the pale sky shines
Like a polished shell between black spruce and pines,
Some strange thing tracks us, turning where we turn.
You’ll say I dreamed it, being the true daughter
Of those who in old times endured this dread.
Look! Where the lily-stems are showing red
A silent paddle moves below the water,
A sliding shape has stirred them like a breath;
Tall plumes surmount a painted mask of death.
Village Mystery (excerpt)
I saw the dead girl cringe and whine,
And cower in the weeping air–
But, oh, she was no kin of mine,
And so I did not care!