Euclid - (2009)
medium voice and piano
Euclid drew a circle
On a sand-beach long ago.
He bounded and enclosed it
With angles thus and so.
His set of solemn greybeards
Nodded and argued much
Of arc and of circumference,
Diameter and such.
A silent child stood by them
From morning until noon
Because they drew such charming
Round pictures of the moon.
pages, circa 1' 50" ]
Nicholas Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) was an American poet who promoted
"modern singing poetry," as he termed it, in which verses are intended to be
sung in some manner. His correspondence with W. B. Yeats indicate his
enthusiasm to revive musical qualities in poetry as per the ancient Greek
tradition, as we understand it from few extant sources. He emphasized
performance and saw poetry "as a performance, as an aural and temporal
experience." For this, his poetry should be ripe for composers' setting. The
text above comes from The Congo and Other Poems, published 1914
sweet distinction between the seeming angularity of geometry and romance of
"the moon" is made by characterizing the "bounded and enclosed" circle of
the "gray beards" with parallel four-note chords which are essentially
diatonic clusters separated by octave displacement.
angularity of the parallel four-note chords yields to appoggiatura and
arpeggio as the "silent child" is voiced by lyricism in contrast to the
preceding angularity. Having been a student of both mathematics and music,
logic and art, I suspect it fair to characterize these sister disciplines in
different guises, each valid to its own intellectual domain.
The score for
Euclid 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.