After Love - (2008)
for mezzo soprano and piano
There is no magic any more,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.
You were the wind and I the sea --
There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.
But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.
[ 2 pages, circa 3' 30" ]
From Teasdale's Love Songs of 1917, this three stanzas poem [ 1 ] succinctly captures that universal moment in most people's lives when love is gone and one again meets that "lost love," to discover that the loss is proven by "no magic any more." Yet when loss is fresh in memory and experience, there is bitterness, and this too Sara Teasdale captures with but a phrase or two, showing us her artistry as poet and humanity as woman. One notes that the gender of the speaker in this text is not noted, for the sense of loss might well apply to both sexes, and yet I conceived the poem specifically for mezzo soprano.
The three verses are set as an A-A-B form, in which the last stanza extends the F major seven (without its third) as against the seeming B minor of the opening vocal phrases. In fact, the setting does not cadence finally in either B minor nor F, as the third verse breaks the vocal line's seeming insistence on B minor, and the final cadence lingers without resolution on a G diminished triad.
The score for After Love 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.
[ 1 ] The poem had variations in its various printings, such that line one may also read "There is no magic when we meet," and the second line may also read "We speak as other people do," and both versions could apply to this musical setting. Should a performer wish these alternative text from Teasdale, she is encouraged to make use of them.