JUNE 2020: Track of the Month
Our June offering was chosen by long-time TMF supporter, advisor, and friend Nancy Edman Feldman, who says, "Like the music of the Terezín artists, Michael Cohen's work always transports me. I hope these songs, with their masterful blend of text and music, do the same for you."
You are listening to TWO SONGS ON TEXTS BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY by MICHAEL COHEN. Thank you to Nancy for bringing our attention to these songs that beautifully express many sentiments pervading our current moment. As you listen, please enjoy the texts of the poems, below. And here is more information about Michael Cohen, an award-winning composer for chamber ensemble, musical theater, television, and opera, notably "Yours, Anne" and "I Am Anne Frank."
Below are "EXILED" and TIME DOES NOT BRING RELIEF," recorded at their world premiere at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Bowdoin, Maine in 2002. Amy Burton, soprano, and J. J. Penna, piano.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Searching my heart for its true sorrow,
This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
Sick of the city, wanting the sea;
Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness 5
Of the strong wind and shattered spray,
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
Of the big surf that breaks all day.
Always before about my dooryard,
Marking the reach of the winter sea, 10
Rooted in sand and dragging driftwood,
Straggled the purple wild sweet pea.
Always I climbed the wave at morning,
Shook the sand from my shoes at night,
That now am caught beneath big buildings, 15
Stricken with noise, confused with light.
If I could hear the green piles groaning.
Under the windy, wooden piers,
See once again the bobbing barrels,
And the black sticks that fence the weirs; 20
If I could see the weedy mussels
Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,
Hear once again the hungry crying
Overhead, of the wheeling gulls;
Feel once again the shanty straining 25
Under the turning of the tide,
Fear once again the rising freshet,
Dread the bell in the fog outside,
I should be happy!—that was happy
All day long on the coast of Maine. 30
I have a need to hold and handle
Shells and anchors and ships again.
I should be happy, that am happy.
Never at all since I came here.
I am too long away from water; 35
I have a need of water near.
TIME DOES NOT BRING RELIEF
YOU ALL HAVE LIED
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.