for baritone/mezzo-soprano and piano, opt. flute
duration c. 9:30

2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards Finalist

Text from August Strindberg’s “The Dream Play” (1901)
Translation by Edwin Björkman (1912)
(Public Domain)

I. Indra

Born beneath the clouds of heaven,
Driven we were by the lightnings of Indra
Down to the sand-covered earth.
Straw from the harvested fields soiled our feet;
Dust from the high-roads,
Smoke from the cities,
Foul-smelling breaths,
Fumes from cellars and kitchens,
All we endured.
Then to the open sea we fled,
Filling our lungs with air,
Shaking our wings,
And laving our feet.

Indra, Lord of the Heavens,
Hear us!
Hear our sighing!
Unclean is the earth;
Evil is life;
Neither good nor bad
Can men be deemed.
As they can, they live,
One day at a time.
Sons of dust, through dust they journey;
Born out of dust, to dust they return.
Given they were, for trudging,
Feet, not wings for flying.
Dusty they grow—
Lies the fault then with them,
Or with Thee?

II. Song of the Winds

We, winds that wander,
We, the air’s offspring,
Bear with us men’s lament.

Heard us you have
During gloom-filled Fall nights,
In chimneys and pipes,
In key-holes and door cracks,
When the rain wept on the roof:
Heard us you have
In the snowclad pine woods
Midst wintry gloom:
Heard us you have,
Crooning and moaning
In ropes and rigging
On the high-heaving sea.

It was we, the winds,
Offspring of the air,
Who learned how to grieve
Within human breasts
Through which we passed—
In sick-rooms, on battle-fields,
But mostly where the newborn
Whimpered and wailed
At the pain of living.

We, we, the winds,
We are whining and whistling:
Woe! Woe! Woe!

III. Song of the Waves

We, we waves,
That are rocking the winds
To rest—
Green cradles, we waves!

Wet are we, and salty;
Leap like flames of fire—
Wet flames are we:
Burning, extinguishing;
Cleansing, replenishing;
Bearing, engendering.

We, we waves,
That are rocking the winds
To rest!

Program Note:

In this scene, the daughter of the god Indra takes a poet to a cave called Indra’s Ear, bidding him to listen to the winds and the waves, through which is conveyed the tale of human suffering. Mvt. I describes this suffering as related directly by humanity, their voices carried to the cave by the winds. Mvt. II conveys the winds’ perspective on what they have observed. The waves in Mvt. III “rock the winds to rest”: water offers the promise of cleansing and rebirth. Though humanity may be at the whim of nature, there is hope of respite as much as there is fear of suffering.

Performance History:

12.8.1612:00pmLandmark Center, St. Paul, MNSchubert Club Courtroom ConcertsRenegadeEnsemble
11.8.157:30pmStudio Z, St. Paul, MNSeason ConcertRenegadeEnsemble
11.6.157:30pmBaroque Room, St. Paul, MNSeason ConcertRenegadeEnsemble
10.10.1512:00pm [note: performed 4 times over course of 2 hours]Studio Z, St. Paul, MNSt. Paul Art CrawlRenegadeEnsemble
8.6.158:00pmAntonello Hall, Minneapolis, MNSource Song FestivalRenegadeEnsemble: Justin Staebell, baritone; Stan Rothrock, pno
3.8.158:15pmUrness Recital Hall, St. Olaf CollegeSenior Composition RecitalAndrew Curtis, baritone; Michael Betz, pno; Joshua Weinberg, fl (ad lib.)