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 Posted:   May 23, 2012 - 11:47 AM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

Considered one of the greatest poems in American letters, Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death" was set to music by John Adams.

It's one of my favorites of his pieces.


It's also one of the only poems I know and like.

What I like about it is that it gave me a different and more kindly view of the end of life.

Here is the poem (Adams apparently set a version someone revised later. This is the original.)

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

We slowly drove—He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility—

We passed the School, where Children played
Their lessons scarcely; done
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
We passed the Setting Sun—

Or rather—He passed Us—
The Dews drew quivering and chill—
For only Gossamer, my Gown—
My Tippet—only Tulle—

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
The Cornice—in the Ground—

Since then—'tis Centuries—and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity—

 
 Posted:   May 23, 2012 - 12:09 PM   
 By:   mgh   (Member)

David,
This is a masterwork, one of my favorite pieces of music. Thanks for pointing it out; maybe some other folks will get to know it.
And by the way, if you like this, you will also like Harmonielehre by Adams

 
 
 Posted:   May 23, 2012 - 3:18 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

A very profound piece.

(Appropriate, too. In just a month it will have been 12 years since my wife passed away. Not a great time around here, I can tell you.)

Thank you for posting it, D-I-B.

 
 
 Posted:   May 23, 2012 - 4:33 PM   
 By:   The Man-Eating Cow   (Member)

Every poem Emily Dickinson ever wrote can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas". Just saying.

 
 
 Posted:   May 23, 2012 - 5:32 PM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

I agree, a superb piece. smile

 
 Posted:   May 23, 2012 - 9:50 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I'm a Dickinson fan and that poem is one of my favorites. Regarding Man Eating's comment about her verse fitting a particular song, which I think I first heard in an episode of BARNEY MILLER over 30 years ago, I'd say an alternate possible influence would be "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which was a huge hit in Emily's day.

Two unfortunate things have happened to poetry in our time. The first is an avalanche of open verse poems with no rhyme or meter in them. And the second is that so few people read poetry anymore, even the old, good stuff.

This guy makes some good points and I recognized some of my own life in his story:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2003/05/05/poetry-is-dead-does-anybody-really-care.html

"...consider that poetry is the only art form where the number of people creating it is far greater than the number of people appreciating it."

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2012 - 5:38 PM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

Another favorite:

Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

-Ernest Dowson


That's about all the poetry I've taken in, but I'm probably going to be game for more as I get older.

 
 Posted:   May 24, 2012 - 5:39 PM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

A very profound piece.

(Appropriate, too. In just a month it will have been 12 years since my wife passed away. Not a great time around here, I can tell you.)



I'm sorry to hear of your loss, Octoberman.

 
 
 Posted:   May 24, 2012 - 7:57 PM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

I'm sorry to hear of your loss, Octoberman.


Thank you, brother. Even after 12 years it can still get tough, in spite of the fact that I'm with an amazing woman for 6 years now. But I sure don't walk around thinking mine was the only tragedy. Cancer has touched us all in some way. No one escapes the hurt. (I hesitated to mention it here on the board at all, but I figured, what the Hell.)

Anyway, beautiful pieces you posted. smile

 
 
 Posted:   May 25, 2012 - 6:55 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

It's also one of the only poems I know and like.

This is a nice appreciation. But, hey, we've got poetry going back for three thousand years, and there must be a few other pieces that speak to you, whether on birth or death or love or any other topic of human interest. Have you tried Homer, the Psalms, Catullus, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Housman, Eliot, . . .?

 
 Posted:   May 25, 2012 - 11:36 AM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

David,

And by the way, if you like this, you will also like Harmonielehre by Adams


I do, and very much! I hope others get around to it, too.

 
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