The Snow-Blossoms - (2009)
Clark Ashton Smith
for medium voice and piano
But yestereve the winter trees
Reared leafless, blackly bare,
Their twigs and branches poignant-marked
Upon the sunset-flare.
White-petaled, opens now the dawn,
And in its pallid glow,
Revealed, each leaf-lorn, barren tree
Stands white with flowers of snow.
[ 2 pages, circa 2' 05" ]
Clark Ashton Smith
Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961) is best known today for his phantasmagorical writings in the genres of fantasy, horror and science-fiction, like those of his literary friend and correspondent, H. P Lovecraft. Smith considered himself primarily a poet, and wrote over 700 poems and prose poems, though he is better remembered for his short stories. Smith was also a self-taught artist whose paintings, drawings and sculptures reflect the phantasmagoric worlds of his fiction. Smith remains one of the most famous contributors to the pulp magazine Weird Tales. This poem is drawn from the collection, The Star-Treader and Other Poems, published by A. M. Robertson (1912).
The setting is polytonal, painted in dynamic shadings of mezzo piano and softer. The density of the triadic chords and the rhythms by which they are played are intended to alter the sense of dynamic change; for the this the score is "under marked." The vocal range is very small, the scale based on F sharp having both major and minor thirds above its seeming tonic.
As with the text, the form is strophic though inexactly so. The ending reprises the final text and subject of the poem and this setting -- snow. As I was composing this, there was snow lying across the park beyond our terrace after yesterday's -- "yestereve's" -- snowfall, as the trees there and in the Tiergarten across the river are "blackly bare" in this time of dusk.
The score for The Snow-Blossoms 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.