Five Songs

Five Songs2017-03-09T20:33:14+00:00

Project Description

Soprano, Baritone, and Chamber Orchestra
30 min.

Rent Parts

Listen Now

Preview Score

We cannot display this gallery


Solo S Solo Bar | Fl(»Picc) Ob(»EH) BbCl(»EbCl) Bsn | Hn | Hp Pno | Vln Vla Vcl DB | Perc

  • Flute (dbl. Piccolo)
  • Oboe (dbl. English Horn)
  • Clarinet in B♭ (dbl. E♭ Clarinet)
  • Bassoon
  • Horn in F
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Violin (2)
  • Viola
  • Violoncello
  • Double Bass (C extension)
  • Required Percussion (1 player)
    • Vibraphone
    • Xylophone
    • Marimba (opt., covered by xylophone)
    • Tom-toms (4, sm. to lg.)
    • Snare Drum
    • Wood Blocks (3)
    • Temple Blocks (5)
    • Cow Bell
    • Triangle (sm.)
    • Hi-hat Cymbal
    • Suspended Cymbal (lg.)
    • Tam-tam
For wind ensembles and concertos, please use one player per part. For symphonies and concert pieces, more players may be used as desired. David’s full statement.


Peterborough, NH/New York City
July-Aug 1975

Commissioned by

This work was composed with the support of a fellowship-grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


A Point of Land and My Hand Looks for You are copyright by David Kelly 1972

Leaving the Rest Unsaid and Warning to Children are copyright by Robert Graves 1955

Hag-Ridden is copyright by Robert Graves 1961

The Kelly poems are used by permission of the author; The Graves poems by permission of Curtis, Brown Ltd. NY, NY

A point of land crests into the rain-slanted lake.
The waves around it rise to meet the sheets of water
pouring from the slate gray sky.
It will rain forever here.
Fish spit the surface and return into the water
unchallenged by the gulls that would be feeding on a clearer day.
Everything here is water or of the water.

A boat, its motor growing louder then shutting off,
comes gliding to shore out of the grayness of sky and lake.
Two obscured figures step off the boat, the larger mooring it
by rope to a crippled tree standing out from the thin piece of land.
The figures disappear up the beach and into the landscape
where the point of land widens and becomes mainland.

The original setting reclaims itself.
Where the rope mooring the boat rubs against edges of sand,
sloping into then dropping through the water, the sand crumbles.
It slides down itself and into the lapping waves.
The empty boat rocks gently in the rain.

David Kelly

Children, children, if you are to think
of the greatness, rareness, muchness,
fewness of this precious only
endless world in which you say
you live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate, enclosing dappled
red and green, enclosing tawny
yellow nets, enclosing white
and black acres of dominoes,
where a neat brown parcel
tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
on the island a large tree,
on the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
In the kernel you will see
blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
red and green, enclosed by tawny
yellow nets, enclosed by white
and black acres of dominoes
where the same brown paper parcel–
Children, leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
finds himself at once inside it
on the island in the fruit,
blocks of slate about his head,
finds himself enclosed by dappled
green and red, enclosed by yellow
tawny nets, enclosed by black
and white acres of dominoes
with the same brown, paper parcel
still untied upon his knee.
And, if he then should dare to think
of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
greatness of the endless only
precious world in which he says
he lives–he then unties the string.

Robert Graves

I awoke in a profuse sweat, arms aching, knees bruised and soles cut to the raw
Preserved no memory of that night but whip-cracks, and my own voice
screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming!
Through what wild, flinty wastes, Hag of the Mill, did you ride your mad-man?
arms aching, knees bruised, screaming, screaming, screaming!

Robert Graves

The house is made of gray stone.
In the kitchen the rats have made a home for themselves.
There is enough flour to last them all winter.
The moon crawls through a hold in the living room window
and shadows lie together on the old couch listening to the dead radio.

I walk in the yard, afraid of trees
and listen to the shifting of stones.
Your picture is still on the parlor wall
and my hand looks for you over surfaces.

David Kelly

Finis, apparent on an earlier page,
With fallen obelisk for colophon,
Must this be here repeated?

Death has been ruefully announced
And to die once is death enough,
Be sure, for any life-time.

Must the book end, as you would end it,
With testamentary appendices
And graveyard indices?

But no, I will not lay me down
To let your tearful music mar
The decent mystery of my progress.

So now, my solemn ones, leaving the rest unsaid,
Rising in air as on a gander’s wing
At a careless comma,

Robert Graves

Further Reading