Born Like the Pines

 

 

Born Like the Pines - (2010)    

James Ephraim McGirt

for medium voice and piano


 

Born like the pines to sing,
    The harp and song in m’ breast,
Though far and near,
There’s none to hear,
I’ll sing as th’ winds request.

To tell the trend of m’ lay,
    Is not for th’ harp or me;
I’m only to know,
From the winds that blow,
What th’ theme of m’ song shall be.

Born like the pines to sing,
    The harp and th’ song in m’ breast,
As th’ winds sweep by,
I’ll laugh or cry,
In th’ winds I cannot rest.

[ 2 pages, circa 1' 05" ]


James Ephraim McGirt

 

The urge to create poetry which captures local speech patterns was shared by a number of black American poets in the 19th century as well as it being a continuing idiom in the many decades following. McGirt's poems were written in standard English, deep dialect and here in this light form in which a few well-placed apostrophes indicate his intentions. The critics of poets place McGirt in a minor rung in their pantheon for his small and seemingly checkered output, but generally it is true of all artists that there is found some greatness and some inanity in any opera omnia. I hold McGirt's work in higher esteem, being less the critic than the "pines." For other song settings to his poetry, click here.

 

 

The mention of harp in the prose alongside song sparked in my thinking an accompaniment of alternating right and left hand notes sustained to mimic the instrument on piano. The enthusiasm of the three strophes presses the song forward to its quick ending without ritardando, for the poet "cannot rest."

 

 

The score 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.

 

Born Like the Pines