A Square Poem - (2014)
for medium voice and piano
I often wondered when I cursed,
Often feared where I would be—
Wondered where she'd yield her love,
When I yield, so will she.
I would her will be pitied!
Cursed be love! She pitied me ...
1 page, circa 1' 15"
Thinking "inside the box" upends the modern parlance of thinking outside that very same box, whatever box is meant. The term, square, for the poem means something a little different. One may read the lines in an array:
|I||often ||wondered ||when ||I ||cursed,|
|Often ||feared ||where ||I||would ||be—|
|Wondered ||where ||she'd ||yield ||her ||love,|
|When ||I||yield,||so ||will ||she.|
|I||would||her||will ||be || pitied!|
|Cursed ||be ||love!||She||pitied||me ...|
Of course, the punctuation and number of syllables per word alter the scansion word-to-word. Because this poem which also carries an emotional flavor and as such is more than a trick, it suggested a setting "thinking inside the box." One notes that written in poetic form, the "square" is not immediately apparent.
The "square" is depicted musically by notated "boxes" in the right hand, with an additional sustained line beneath. Because of normal proportional spacing for a variety of musical and textual reasons, the "square" is most nearly approached as in the second half of measure six.
The harmonic succession of chords is wholly diatonic as is the vocal part, a "row" of sorts - E, E, D, C, B, A, G, F. For the diatonic character and varying numbers of syllables per word, the vocal phrases pick out their own overall arch, and the whole song is a progression of dynamics from soft to loud, in character with Carroll's last line, exclamation mark and incomplete last thought ending with....
The box pictured above is similar to the "illustration" which is found when I had been thinking about Modern Art . For other settings of Lewis Carroll's texts, click here.
The score for A Square Poem 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 Square Poem