Hours - (2011)
for medium or low voice and piano
Hours when I love you, are like tranquil pools,
The liquid jewels of the forest, where
The hunted runner dips his hand, and cools
His fevered ankles, and the ferny air
Comes blowing softly on his heaving breast,
Hinting the sacred mystery of rest.
[ 1 page, circa 1' 30" ]
The text is found in Eastman's early collection, Colors of Life (1918). In a preface on poetry, he wrote, "Life is older than liberty. It is greater than revolution. It burns in both camps. And life is what I love. And though I love life for all men and women, and so inevitably stand in the ranks of revolution against the cruel system of these times, I love it also for myself. And its essence--the essence of life--is variety and specific depth." The poem paints a picture of a moment in time in a storied metaphor.
The two accompanying lines are related bi-tonally, the vocal line aligned with the upper's diatonic major. Between them come hints of a resolution with the "blowing softly." Yet the bi-tonal coloration ends this short setting, for "hours" come infrequently, and the "hunted runner" -- as we know from the experiences of life -- will again run, seeking a next moment of rest and love.
The score for Hours 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.