Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Under the harvest moon - (2010)    

Carl Sandburg

for low or medium voice and piano


          Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

          Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

[ 3 pages, circa 4' 25" ]

Carl Sandburg


The text is found in Sandburg's Chicago Poems (1916), and as with many poets through the centuries he draws the parallel between love and death. This time it is set in the context of harvest time, and yet the age old questions are told to us again to be "unanswerable."



The setting was originally conceived in the lower key, but I have made an edition for medium voice as well. The lyrical line above a gentle sostenuto of harmonies moving slowly in a measured pace repeats several times as the vocal line is given two strophes above the sustained accompaniment, the second differing slightly from the first as does the second stanza of the poem.



The stanzas' opening phrases are repeated in a codetta and then the pairing of "death" with "love" ends the text setting as the accompaniment lingers into nonexistence.



The score for Under the harvest moon 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.


Under the harvest moon - low voice


Under the harvest moon - medium voice