Barter - (2010)
medium voice and piano
for Steve Spanoudis, of the Poets' Corner
has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up,
Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
pages, circa 3' 45" ]
text is taken from Teasdale's 1917 publication, Love Songs, and was
reprinted in subsequent anthologies. The poet advises that one to "sell all
you have for loveliness," and since there is no currency which might
purchase such experiences as she enumerates, the title is apt. In life there
are always trade-offs and the question remains, as a rabbi and friend of
mine from years past asked, "What would you pay for peace of mind?" In like
way, Teasdale chides encourages us to make the right decisions, experience
the best that life can offer, and experience "one white singing hour of
setting begins with the juxtaposition between C major and G flat, seemingly
distantly related tonal regions yet for the purposes of the song ever close
neighbors, and the fulcrum on which the harmonic palette resides.
stanzas of the poem are not mapped directly onto the musical setting, as the
second stanza's opening line finishes the first "verse" of the song.
Therefore, now on E flat the second verse begins with the second line of
Teasdale's stanza. The setting reprises the tonal region of C before
lingeringly coming to its resting cadence on F.
have used a number of reliable sources, including Poets' Corner, in
searching out texts and information for the purposes of song settings. The
Poets' Corner was a non-commercial site with nearly 800 poets and eight
thousand texts created for the love of poetry itself. Steve Spanoudis was
among those who administered the site, and this song setting is in
appreciation for the site, among my favorites.
The score for
Barter 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.