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chansons innocentes (1923)  - (1983)    

E. E. Cummings

for high voice and piano


 

i.

 

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles         far               and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far           and            wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and

         the

                  goat-footed

balloonMan           whistles
far
and
wee

 

ii.

 

hist      whist
little ghostthings
tip-toe
twinkle-toe

little twitchy
witches and tingling
goblins
hob-a-nob     hob-a-nob

little hoppy happy
toad in tweeds
tweeds
little itchy mousies

with scuttling
eyes    rustle and run     and
hidehidehide
whisk

whisk    look out for the old woman
with the wart on her nose
what she’ll do to yer
nobody knows

for she knows the devil     ooch
the devil     ouch
the devil
ach      the great

green
dancing
devil
devil

devil
devil

         wheeEEE

 

iii.

 

Tumbling-hair
              picker of buttercups
                                   violets
dandelions
And the big bullying daisies
                              through the field wonderful
with eyes a little sorry
Another comes
               also picking flowers

 

 

In Tulips and Chimneys (1923)

 [ 8 pages, circa 4' 40" ]


 

E. E. Cummings

 

The typographic oddities in these early Cummings poems are only part of the enjoyment, for the imagery remains paramount, captured in word and thereafter hopefully to be illustrated in the musical settings. As of 2019, these texts, once under copyright in the US over a ninety-five year period, are become part of the public domain and are made available here as such.

 

 

The spacing of the text in its various lines, and the line breaks themselves, are used to generate intervals and breaks in the melodic phrasing. Thus it is possible to claim that the poet assisted in the pitch selection and phrasing. Blurring the accompaniment with the sostenuto pedal is encouraged, such that the washes of harmonic colors underpinning the vocal line has soft edges.

 

 

The humor of the second text is punctuated with parallel chords in the accompaniment and sometimes conflicting harmonic structures.

 

 

 

The elegiac setting of this text is one of light dissonance and tonal domains somewhat distant from one another at the beginning. How shall "with eyes a little sorry" be read? As reacting to the disturbance of "another" or at the occasion of picking flowers? A small postlude for the piano alone continues the mood, ending in a hushed dissonance. 

 

 

 

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.

 

chansons innocentes (1923)

8 ½ x 11 edition