A death song

 

 

A death song - (2012)      

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for medium voice and piano


 

Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass,
Whah de branch 'll go a-singin' as it pass.
An' w'en I 's a-layin' low,
I kin hyeah it as it go
Singin', "Sleep, my honey, tek yo' res' at las'."

Lay me nigh to whah hit meks a little pool,
An' de watah stan's so quiet lak an' cool,
Whah de little birds in spring,
Ust to come an' drink an' sing,
An' de chillen waded on dey way to school.

Let me settle w'en my shouldahs draps dey load
Nigh enough to hyeah de noises in de road;
Fu' I t'ink de las' long res'
Gwine to soothe my sperrit bes'
Ef I's layin' 'mong de t'ings I's allus knowed.

2 pages, circa 3' 45"


Paul Laurence Dunbar

 

The text is found in Dunbar's collection, Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899), available at the very fine Wright State University Libraries online Dunbar Collection. For other song settings of Dunbar's texts, click here.

 

 

The three gentle strophes, while divided typographically into five lines, read as the standard quatrain. They are set as three hymn-like verses with a short introduction and slightly extended bridge into the third verse in which the accompaniment is simply pitched an octave higher. The intent is more as a prayer than an art song, and should be treated in hushed dynamic shades and colors.

 

 

The score for A death song is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

A death song