Song of Summer


Song of Summer - (2009)    

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for medium voice and piano


Dis is gospel weathah, sho’-
Hills is swat o’ hazy.
Meddahs level ez a flo’
Callin’ to de lazy.
Sky all white wif streaks o’ blue,
Sunshine softly gleamin’,
D’ain’t no wuk hit ‘s right to do,
Nothin’ ‘s right but dreamin’.

Dreamin’ by de rivah side
Wif de watahs glist’nin’,
Feelin’ good an’ satisfied
Ez you lay a-list’nin’
To the little nakid boys
Splashin’ in de watah,
Hollerin’ fu’ to spress deir joys
Jes’ lak youngsters ought to.

Squir’l a-tippin’ on his toes,
So ‘s to hide an’ view you;
Whole flocks o’ camp-meetin’ crows
Shoutin’ hallelujah.
Peckahwood erpon de tree
Tappin’ lak a hammah;
Jaybird chattin’ wif a bee,
Tryin’ to teach him grammah.

Breeze is blowin’ wif perfume,
Jes’ enough to tease you;
Hollyhocks is all in bloom,
Smellin’ fu’ to please you.
Go ‘way, folks, an’ let me ‘lone,
Times is gettin’ dearah-
Summah ‘s settin’ on de th’one,
An’ I’m a-layin’ neah huh!

[ 5 pages, circa 4' 35" ]

Paul Laurence Dunbar


On a leisurely August day reflecting on a month on the sea islands of South Carolina, this text spoke -- albeit in the form of dialect of which Dunbar was fond for one side of his poetry -- of the many images of summertime in temperate climes. Perfumes on breezes, the sounds of nature calling against the pale colors of a summer sky. For this his text sang itself to me.



A limpid melodic introduction, whose texture repeats between verses, a modal opening to the verse lazes through to the tonality of the opening phrases.



The third of the verses is treated as a bridge between second and last, the gesture of the introduction now serving as part of the accompaniment, before a leisurely reprise of the opening materials and last verse and short final tag.



The score for 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.


Song of Summer