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
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:
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.)
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, . . .?
As it happens, I first heard (and loved) the Millay spoken by Kim Hunter, and likewise the first Cummings spoken by Mark Lenard, in 1963 on a one-hour CBS TV special called, "Americans: A Portrait in Verses," hosted and narrated by James Whitmore. Other cast members included among others Alexander Scourby, Peggy Wood, and a very young Cicely Tyson. With sets and costumes, these players beautifully acted out a series of artfully selected and edited poems of every conceivable mood and meaning, backed by a beautiful original music score by George Kleinsinger -- most well known for "Tubby the Tuba," but a highly gifted composer for stage, screen and concert hall.
Hard to believe in our modern era that there was a time when a major network had a department called Public Affairs which would put a show such as this on the air in prime time -- and without a single commercial. Equally impressive, this show garnered more viewer mail than any previous CBS program to date.
The show was so successful with the audience that it was re-broadcast later that year -- and never again, since.