Three Songs “Anne Sexton Songs”

Three Songs “Anne Sexton Songs”2017-03-13T19:07:58+00:00

Project Description

Female Voice and Piano
15 min.

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Premiere performance
live recording (1978)


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  1. December 11th
  2. Us
  3. December 15th


The poems of American poet Anne Sexton (1928-1974) chosen for Three Songs are poems of aloneness and loneliness – memories of the loved one who is not there. The text settings are dramatic and powerful, dreamlike evocations of time, place, and lost happiness.
Written for soprano voice, but edited to accommodate mezzo soprano range as well.

Poems by Anne Sexton

December 11th

Then I think of you in bed,
Your tongue half chocolate, half ocean,
of the houses that you swing into,
of the steel wool hair on your head,
of your persistent hands and then
how we gnaw at the barrier because we are two.

How you come and take my blood cup
and link me together and take my brine.
We are bare. We are stripped to the bone
and we swim in tandem and go up and up
the river, the identical river called Mine
and we enter together. No one’s alone

I was wrapped in black
fur and white fur and
you undid me and then
you placed me in gold light
and then you crowned me,
while snow fell outside
the door in diagonal darts.
While a ten-inch snow
came down like stars
in small calcium fragments,
we were in our own bodies
(that room will bury us)
and you were in my body
(that room will outlive us)
and at first I rubbed your
feet dry with a towel
because I was your slave
and then you called me princess.

Oh then
I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o’clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
we harvested.

The day of the lonely drunk
is here. No weather reports,
no fox, no birds, no sweet chipmunks,
no sofa game, no summer resorts.
No whatever it is we had,
no sky, no month – just booze.
The half moon is acid, bitter, sad
as I sing the Blended Whiskey Blues.

Further Reading