spring omnipotent goddess - (2008)
E. E. Cummings
for mezzo soprano and piano
spring omnipotent goddess Thou
dost stuff parks
with overgrown pimply
chevaliers and gumchewing giggly
damosels Thou dost
persuade to serenade
his lady the musical tom-cat
Thou dost inveigle
into crossing sidewalks the
unwary june-bug and the frivolous
Thou dost hang canary birds in parlour windows
Spring slattern of seasons
you have soggy legs
and a muddy petticoat
(First published in The Dial, May 1920; for the remainder of this text, please consult any one of the many printed and electronic sources)
[ 5 pages, circa 3' 20" ]
E. E. Cummings
The early Cummings poems were published in a number of somewhat obscure sources before 1923, a year which still is the border between public domain and enforceable copyrights thanks to favoritism by the United States government to protect further some few copyrights, most importantly to the "law givers" being Mickey Mouse. For this the law which extended copyright terms is sometimes called "Mickey Mouse," in tribute to government as is proper and apt. Nevertheless, Harvard's The Dial published quite a number of Cummings' work which is without question within the public domain today. This work is among them.
From Hokku and then to A Chorus Girl to his text, one sees a maturation of Cummings in terms of his developing style as a poet. The use of images is combined with a look to the page which gathers momentum in the printed versions of his poetry, "music" for the eye, in a sense, as well as for the reader. The whimsy of these images spoke to me of a similar whimsy to the setting, and the quixotic, on-again, off-again harmonic rhythm of the accompaniment sometimes propels the line forward, and sometimes lingers for a moment.
The setting moves to the flat submediant region for only a moment, allowing the vocal line to rest a while in its "whisky voice." The last images bring a reprise of the opening gestures as spring is welcomed with a certain oddity and examination of such small things as an "unwary june-bug" and "freakish feet."
The score for spring omnipotent goddess 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.
spring omnipotent goddess