Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


The Late Singer - (2008)     

William Carlos Williams

for tenor and piano


Here it is spring again
and I still a young man!
I am late at my singing.
The sparrow with the black rain on his breast
has been at his cadenzas for two weeks past:
What is it that is dragging at my heart?
The grass by the back door
is stiff with sap.
The old maples are opening
their branches of brown and yellow moth-flowers.
A moon hangs in the blue
in the early afternoons over the marshes.
I am late at my singing.

[ 4 pages, circa 2' 45" ]

William Carlos Williams


Published in Sour Grapes (1921), this is a young man's text, wherein the spring has erupted in earth and yet something holds back his enthusiasm amidst beauty and the blooming. One might conclude for his startling awareness of such as the sparrow's cadenzas and the vibrancy of nature's colors that spring is soon to break forth in him as well, for he knows well that he is "late."



The setting opens with a virtuoso brilliance, as a world born fresh and new. This foreground which becomes background to the opening phrases for the tenor continues to announce the bright eruption of colors.



The images which Williams brings to bear as counterpoint to the "dragging" of a young man's heart are lyrical and sweet, and break out again as come prima for the last musical statements and reprise of the last line of the poem.



The score for The Late Singer 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.


The Late Singer