Collected Poetry



Poems Done on a Late Night Car - (2020)   

Carl Sandburg

for medium voice and piano


I. Chickens

I am The Great White Way of the city:
When you ask what is my desire, I answer:
"Girls fresh as country wild flowers,
With young faces tired of the cows and barns,
Eager in their eyes as the dawn to find my mysteries,
Slender supple girls with shapely legs,
Lure in the arch of their little shoulders
And wisdom from the prairies to cry only softly at the ashes of my mysteries."

II. Used Up
Lines based on certain regrets that come with rumination
upon the painted faces of women on North Clark Street, Chicago

      Red roses,
In the rain and wind
Like mouths of women
Beaten by the fists of
Men using them.
  O little roses
  And broken leaves
  And petal wisps:
You that so flung your crimson
  To the sun
Only yesterday.

III. Home

Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:
I heard it in the air of one night when I listened
To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.

5 pages, circa 3' 45"

Carl Sandburg (1878–1967)


From his early "Chicago Poems" published in1916, these three texts -- conjoined texts in the manner of their presentation found together in publications -- are also joined yet separate in this setting for medium voice and piano.



The opening gesture with hints at syncopation and blue notes yields to lightly polytonal chords as the first text is sung between duple and triple rhythms. The first text is set in C with its blue notes and slow strut as at measure 13 and thereafter.



The harmonic domain of C seemingly yields to E major but turns to C sharp minor, so distant from the opening. The clear and slow triple feel is subverted by a sometime insistence on duple gestures as rhythmic counterpoint.



As the second cadences in C sharp minor, the third text takes up, its accompaniment sharing polytonally C and E, and then shifting by common tone relation to a next section, before recurring. Themes from the previous link to together to refer the three settings as a whole.


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 art song score.


Poems Done on a Late Night Car