50th Anniversary Celebration Concert
March 5, 2022, 7:00
Schütz, Musikalische Exequien
Wachner, We Two Alone - WORLD PREMIER
with the Providence Baroque Orchestra
Grace Episcopal Church
300 Westminster Street, Providence, RI
Click image to learn more.
Providence Singers Soloists
Magnificat in D
Johann Sebastian Bach
Providence Baroque Orchestra
Providence Baroque Orchestra is an outgrowth of many collaborations between Frederick Jodry and the late Judson Griffith, who explored many Baroque oratorios with the Brown Chorus and a period band. They performed such works as Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Messiah, Bach’s Missae Brevis and the St John Passion, culminating in a presentation of Bach’s towering St Matthew Passion in 2017. At that point, they realized there were a dozen or so period instrument players living in Rhode Island, and, as the Providence Baroque Orchestra, began performing annually in the Museum Concerts series. Programs dedicated to celebrations of the works of Albinoni, Vivaldi, Handel, and Boyce were performed, and Fall 2020 included several of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons along with Handel and Vivaldi opera arias with Rhode Island native, countertenor Christopher Lowrey. This season, the orchestra will present concerts in Newport, Little Compton, Westerly, and Providence, and collaborate with the Brown University Chorus, Schola Cantorum of Boston, Collegium Ancora, and the Providence Singers.
Bass: Eliot Porter
Theorbo: Nathaniel Cox
Flute I: Na'ama Lion
Flute II: Kathryn Roth
Oboe I: Meg Owens
Oboe II:Alison Gangler
Bassoon: Elizabeth Hardy
Trumpet I: Robinson Pyle
Trumpet II: Christopher Belluscio
Trumpet III: Greg Gettel
Organ: John Black
Tympani and marimba: Matthew Sharrock
Note on historic performance
When performing 18th-century oratorios and concertos, over the past 50 years or so it has become somewhat common to try to recreate the sounds and colors that the composers would recognize. When playing Bach and Handel, for example, one tries to recreate some of the musical details that give music its distinctive colors and sounds. In general, the design of instruments have evolved over the past 200 years, largely to make the orchestral sounds louder to fill ever bigger halls. But what musical ideas have been lost in doing so?
An 18th-century violin has the same body as a modern violin, and indeed, we value the 17th-century violin makers very highly—Stradivarius and Amati, for example. But over time, most violins have been altered by changing the angle of the neck, using a higher bridge, and installing a longer fingerboard. After about 1900, steel strings became the norm. The design of bows has also changed to larger, heavier bows. Eighteenth century string instruments were strung largely with natural animal gut and were played with a lighter and more agile bow.
We find the use of historical instruments adds considerably to performances, resulting in a more transparent tone, a clearer sense of articulation, and often a different balance between the winds and strings. Baroque music is usually played at A=415 today (rather than the modern standard of A=440), a half step lower, and this detail also influences how the string instruments respond. When the violins are strung in gut, with a lower Baroque bridge, and are under less physical tension because of the lower pitch, the tone takes on a new sheen.
Baroque wind instruments are even more radically different from their modern cousins. Flutes and oboes have much simpler technology, usually only one or two keys, rather than the serious dental work of the levers and keys on modern woodwinds.The tone of the wooden flutes is softer and sweeter, the oboes perhaps more plangent, and both instruments blend with period strings more readily. The trumpets are also simpler, being played without valves, and add considerable luster and volume to the orchestral tutti.
We hope you enjoy hearing the sounds of the period instruments, and the marvelous way they support and blend with voices.
--L. F. Jodry V
Magnificat in D
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
The Magnificat has been set to music more often than any liturgical text but the Mass. The long list of composers includes Palestrina, Heinrich Schütz, Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Salieri, Mozart, Liszt, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, Rachmaninoff, and least four members of the Bach family. Some composers wrote several settings of the text; Schütz, for example, wrote a Latin Magnificat and three in German.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat in E Flat was his first liturgical composition on a Latin text. In the Lutheran tradition, German settings of the text were part of everyday worship, while Latin versions were more elaborate works presented on high holidays—Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost—and Marian feasts: the Annunciation, celebrated around March 25; the Visitation (Mary's visit with Elizabeth), celebrated July 2; and the Purification, February 2. Bach’s Magnificat was probably first presented during the Christmas season in 1723, his first year as cantor of the St. Thomas School and St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Ten years later, Bach transposed the work to the key of D, which is more trumpet-friendly and has a brighter sound. He also removed the four non-liturgical Christmas hymns included in the earlier version so that the work could be performed year round. This version is the one most frequently performed today.
Bach’s Magnificat was conceived as a grand work, requiring five soloists, a five-part choir, and an unusually large orchestra for its time. For all its musical splendor, it pays close attention to the text, painting both the words and the emotions of Mary’s song. One of the most powerful moments, however, is when the scale shifts from personal to universal, and the significance of Mary’s pregnancy to all humanity. Bach depicts this with each voice part making an ascending entrance on the words “omnes generationes” (all generations), until the combined voices join in a dominant chord. A five-part fugue on “Sicut loctus est” (According to the promise) suggests through its structure the orderliness of divine plan, and the final “Gloria Patri” recalls the opening theme, with the trumpets heralding angelic revelations and glories to come.
For sheer drama, few stories can match the moment when Mary of Galilee, a simple village girl probably no older than 13 or 14, received an angelic visitor and life-changing news: She had been chosen to bear the son of God. After an understandable moment of terror followed by some completely reasonable questions, Mary agreed. This was an act of enormous faith and courage: By Judaic law, a betrothed woman who became pregnant by someone other than her fiancé faced banishment—a path that led to disgrace and destitution—or death by stoning. Joseph had the legal right to demand Mary's execution, but he opted to “put her aside privately.” Mary faced the prospect of banishment until Joseph received his own angelic vision in the form of a dream, informing him that Mary was telling the truth and urging him to go ahead with the wedding. Three months later, the newlywed girl visited her cousin Elizabeth, an elderly woman who was experiencing her own miraculous pregnancy. The future John the Baptist leapt within his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized Mary’s son. The teenaged girl poured out her joy in words of rare beauty and power, a canticle that became known as the Magnificat from the opening text: “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
Magnificat in D Major BWV 243
Magnificat anima mea Dominum,
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
2. Aria: Soprano
Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutario meo.
And my spirit has exulted in God my savior.
3. Aria: Soprano
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suea; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent
Because He has regarded the lowly estate of His handmaiden; from now on, they will call me blessed
5. Aria: Bass
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, es sanctum nomen eius.
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
6. Duet: Alto and tenor
Et misicordia a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
And His mercy continues from generation to generation for those who fear Him.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersity superbos mente cordis sui.
He has made known the power of His arm, scattered those who are arrogant in the thoughts of their hearts.
8. Aria: Tenor
Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles.
He has put down the mighty from their seats [of power] and raised up those who are lowly.
9. Aria: Alto
Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.
The hungry he has filled with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
10. Trio: Soprano I and II, Alto
Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae.
He has taken His child Israel under his protection, and remembered His mercy.
Sicut locutus est ad Patres nostros, Abraham et semini eius in saecula.
In accordance with what He promised our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.
Gloria Patri, gloria Filio, gloria et Spiritui Sancto! Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Glory to the Father, glory to the Son, and glory to the Holy Spirit! As it was in the beginning, it is and always will be throughout ages of ages. Amen.
By 1620, Dresden had entered the fray, and the compositions written during this time were, of necessity, scored for small, flexible musical groups. Schütz returned to Italy in 1628, where he was introduced to opera, then an emerging art form. It was probably during this time that he began work on Musikalische Exequien, a funeral mass for his friend Heinreich II, Count of Reuss-Gera.
The count was alive and well when his requiem was begun; in fact, he helped select the text and shared his opinions on what the music should be. To a seventeenth-century Lutheran, this would not seem unusual. Death was viewed as a journey to eternal peace, a reward for a life well lived. On a darker note, mostly likely another factor in this preoccupation was that death was all around them. The Thirty Years’ War is considered one of the most destructive wars in European history, and repeated outbreaks of the plague probably killed as many people as the fighting. In 1635, the year of the count’s death, over 100,000 people died of plague in London alone. Some areas of Germany lost more than half their population to war, famine, and plague. Given the grim reality of Schütz’s life and times—including the death of his young wife and both their daughters—the sense of joy and beauty expressed in Musikalische Exequien is all the more remarkable.
The composer added a theatrical touch to the last movement--a heavenly trio that sings at a distance from the choir to evoke the journey from earth to heaven. The choir sings the "before" sentiment ("Now let Thy servant depart in peace") and the trio, representing two angels and the Holy Spirit, welcome the departing soul: "Blessed are the dead who die in the name of the Lord."
Schütz’s lasting influence is in his ability to capture the meaning and imagery of the text, and to dramatize the emotions it contains without succumbing to sentimentality. Brahms, in particular, revered his work, and his own German Requiem was inspired by his careful study of Musikalische Exequien.
Musikalische Exequien, SWV 279-281
Teil I: Concert in Form einer teutschen Begräbnis-Missa
Part I: Concerto in the form of a German burial Mass
Nacket bin ich von Mutterleibe kommen,
Naked I came from my mother‘s womb,
2. Soli (TTB)
nacket werde ich wiederum dahinfahren. Der Herr hat’s gegeben, der Herr hat’s genommen, der Name des Herren sie gelobet.
naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)
Herr Gott, Vater im Himmel, erbarm dich über uns!
Lord God, Father in heaven, have mercy upon us! (Kyrie eleison)
4. Soli (SST)
Christus ist mein Leben, Sterben ist mein Gewinn. Siehe, das ist Gottes Lamm, das der Welt Sünde trägt.
Christ is my life, dying is my gain. Behold, this is the Lamb of God, who carries the sin of the world. (Philippians 1:21, John 1:29)
Jesu Christe, Gottes Sohn erbarm dich über uns!
Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon us! (Christe eleison)
6. Soli (AB)
Leben wir, so leben wir dem Herren; sterben wir, so sterben wir dem Herren; darum, wir leben oder sterben so sind wir des Herren.
When we live, we live for the Lord; when we die, we die for the Lord: therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord‘s. (Romans 14:8)
Herr Gott, Heiliger Geist erbarm dich über uns!
Lord God, Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us! (Kyrie eleison)
8. Intonatio (Tenor)
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, daß er seinen eingebornen Sohn gab,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,
9. Soli (SSATTB)
auf daß alle, die an ihn glauben, nicht verloren werden, sondern das ewige Leben haben.
so that all who believed in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Er sprach zu seinem lieben Sohn: die Zeit ist hie zu erbarmen; fahr hin, mein‘s Herzens werte Kron, und sei das Heil der Armen, und hilf ihn‘ aus der Sünden Not, erwürg für sie den bittern Tod und laß sie mit dir leben.
He said to his beloved Son: the time for mercy is here; go there, crown of my heart, and be the salvation of the poor, and help them out of sin; destroy bitter of death for them, and let them live with you. (Martin Luther, 1523)
11. Soli (ST)
Das Blut Jesu Christi, des Sohnes Gottes, machet uns rein von allen Sünden.
The blood of Jesus Christ, the son of God, cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
Durch ihn ist uns vergeben die Sünd, geschenkt das Leben. Im Himmel solln wir haben, o Gott, wie große Gaben!
Through Him our sin is forgiven, our life restored. In heaven we shall have, O God, such wondrous gifts! (Ludwig Helmbold, 1575)
13. Soli (SB)
Unser Wandel is im Himmel, von dannen wir auch warten des Heilandes Jesu Christi, des Herren, welcher unsern nichtigen Leib verklären wird, daß er ähnlich werde seinem verklärten Leibe.
Our journey is in heaven, from then we also wait for the Savior, Lord Jesus Christ: who will transfigure our useless body to become like His glorious body. (Philippians 3:20- 21)
Es ist allhier ein Jammertal, Angst, Not und Trübsal überall, des Bleibens ist ein kleine Zeit, voller Mühseligkeit, und wer‘s bedenkt, ist immer im Streit.
It’s a vale of misery here—fear, distress and trouble everywhere; our stay here is a short time, full of hardship, and whoever thinks about it is always discontented. (Johann Leon, 1582/89)
15. Soli (TT)
Wenn eure Sünde gleich blutrot wäre, soll sie doch schneeweiß werden; wenn sie gleich ist wie rosinfarb, soll sie doch wie Wolle werden.
If your sin were as red as blood, it shall be as white as snow, were it red as crimson, it shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl dient wider allen Unfall, der heilge Geist im Glauben lehrt uns darauf vertrauen.
His word, His baptism, His Eucharist serve against all misfortune; the Holy Spirit teaches us to have faith. (Ludwig Helmbold, 1575)
17. Solo (Alto)
Gehe hin, mein Wolk, in deine Kammer und schleuß die Tür nach dir zu! Verbirge dich einen kleinen Augenblick, bis der Zorn vorübergehe.
Go, my people, into your chamber and shut the door behind you! Give yourself a little moment until the wrath has passed. (Isaiah 26:20)
18. Soli (SSB)
Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand, und keine Qual rühret sie an;
The righteous souls are in God’s hand, and no torment touches them;
für den Unverständigen werden sie angesehen, als stürben sie, und ihr Abschied wird für eine Pein gerechnet, und ihr Hinfahren für Verderben, aber sie sind in Frieden.
for people who lack understanding, they seem to die, and their departure is seen as torment, and their journey toward perdition, but they are in peace.
Aber sie sind in Frieden.
But they are in peace. (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-3)
19. Solo (Tenor)
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe, so frage ich nichts nach Himmel und Erden.
Lord, if I have only You, I ask nothing more from heaven and earth.
20. Soli (SATTB)
Wenn mir gleich Leib und Seele verschmacht, so bist du, Gott, allzeit meines Herzens Trost und mein Teil.
And when my body and soul are dying, then You, God, are always my heart’s comfort and my portion. (Psalm 73:25-6)
Er ist das Heil und selig Licht für die Heiden, zu erleuchten, die dich kennen nicht, und zu weiden. Er ist seines Volks Israel der Preis, Ehr, Freud und Wonne.
He is the salvation and blessed light for the heathen, to enlighten those who don‘t know Him, and to tend them. He is to His people Israel the price, honor, joy and delight. (Martin Luther, 1524)
22. Soli (BB)
Unser Leben währet siebenzig Jahr, und wenn’s hoch kömmt, so sind’s achtzig Jahr, und wenn es köstlich gewesen ist, so ist es Müh’ und Arbeit gewesen.
Our lives last seventy years, and at the highest about eighty years, and if it was delightful, it was also struggle and labor. (Psalm 90:10)
Ach, wie elend ist unser Zeit allhier auf dieser Erden, gar bald der Mensch darniederleit, wir müssen alle sterben, allhier in diesem Jammertal ist Müh und Arbeit überall, auch wenn dir’s wohl gelinget.
Oh, how miserable is our time here on earth, soon man falls down, as we all must die: Here, in this valley of tears, is everywhere trouble and labor, even if you prosper. (Johannes Gigas, 1566)
24. Solo (Tenor)
Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt, und er wird mich hernach aus der Erden auferwecken, und werde darnach mit dieser meiner Haut umgeben werden und werde in meinem Fleisch Gott sehen.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall make me rise up from the earth, and then will my skin cover my body and in my flesh will I see God. (Job 19:25-6)
Weil du vom Tod erstanden bist, werd ich im Grab nicht bleiben, mein höchster Trost dein Auffahrt ist, Todsfurcht kannst du vertreiben, denn wo du bist, da komm ich hin, daß ich stets bei dir leb und bin, drum fahr ich hin mit Freuden.
Because You arose from death, I shall not remain in the grave; my greatest comfort is Your Ascension; You can drive away the fear of death, for where You are, I will go too, so that I may live and be with You forever, therefore I die with Joy. (Nikolaus Herman, 1560)
26. Soli (SSATTB)
Herr, ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn.
Lord, I won‘t let You go, except if You bless me. (Genesis, 32:27)
Er sprach zu mir: Halt dich an mich, es soll dir itzt gelingen,ich geb mich selber ganz für dich, da will ich für dich ringen. Den Tod verschlingt das Leben mein, mein Unschuld tragt die Sünden dein, da bist du selig worden.
He said to me: Hold on to me, you will succeed; I give myself completely for you, and I will struggle for you. Death is devoured by my life, my innocence bears your sins, and you have been saved. (Martin Luther, 1523)
Teil II: Motette “Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe”
Part II: Motet “Lord, if I have but Thee“
Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe, so frage ich nichts nach Himmel und Erden. Wenn mir gleich Leib und Seele verschmacht’, so bist du doch, Gott, allezeit meines Herzens Trost und mein Teil.
Lord, if I have only You, I ask nothing more from heaven and earth. And when my body and soul are dying, then You, God, are always my heart’s comfort and my portion. (Psalm 73:25-6)
Teil III: Canticum Simeonis
Part III: Canticle of the blessed Simeon
Herr, nun lassest du deinen Diener
Lord, now let Your servant
in Frieden fahren, wie du gesagt hast. Denn meine Augen haben deinen Heiland gesehen, welchen du bereitet hast für allen Völkern, ein Licht, zu erleuchten die Heiden, und zum Preis deines Volks Israel.
go in peace, as You said. For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You prepared for all people, a light to enlighten all Gentiles, and for the glory of Your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)
Chorus II - Seraphim I, II und Beata anima
Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben, sie ruhen von ihrer Arbeit, und ihre Werke folgen ihnen nach. Sie sind in der Hand des Herren, und keine Qual rühret sie.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; they rest from their labors, and their works follow them. They are in the hand of the Lord, and no torment touches them. (after Revelation 14:13 and Wisdom of Solomon 3:1)
Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Heinrich Schütz is considered the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach and one of the most important composers of the seventeenth century. He introduced the new style of the Italian monodists—composers such as Monteverdi who wrote florid solo lines with instrumental accompaniment—to German music, yet his work remained firmly rooted in the German choral tradition and the vernacular. He composed the first German opera (Daphne, which, sadly, has been lost to time) and the first German requiem: Musikalische Exequien.
A fine singer, he became a chorister at Kassel in 1599, where he received a well-rounded education that led to law studies at the University of Marburg. After just one year, however, he left the university to spend three years in Venice studying music with Giovanni Gabrieli. He returned to the law, briefly, but was soon in demand as an organist, music director, and composer. Schütz took up a permanent post in the electoral chapel in Dresden in 1617, just one year before the onset of the Thirty Years’ War.
We Two Alone
Julian Wachner (b. 1969)
Julian Wachner is an American composer, conductor, and keyboardist. Since 2011, he has served as the Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street, conducting the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, and NOVUS NY. In 2018, he was named Artistic Director of the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, affiliated with the Grand Rapids Symphony. As a guest conductor, he has led ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, and San Francisco Opera. As a composer, he has published over 60 musical works, many of which are sacred works for chorus.
From 1996 to 2006, he was the Artistic Director of the Providence Singers, during which time he composed the choir’s first commissioned work: Sometimes I Feel Alive. Allison McMillan, then president of the Providence Singers (and later the first Executive Director), commissioned a setting of three E. E. Cummings love poems for her husband’s 50th birthday. Wachner composed the work at Tanglewood in the summer 1998, and the Providence Singers gave the world première in the fall. The work received immediate acclaim, winning first prize in the 2000 Boston Choral Consortium Composition Competition and in the 2001 Cambridge Madrigal Singers Competition. It has been performed frequently nationally and internationally. In 2006, the Singers’ Board Chair, Patricia Fuller, commission a second work: Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100.) Composed for triple chorus and children’s choir a cappella, this work is reminiscent of the polychoral antiphonal works of Heinrich Schütz, whose music Wachner and the Providence Singers often performed early in his tenure as artistic director. In 2006, to commemorate his decade of service, the Providence Singers established The Wachner Fund for New Music for the commission and performance of new choral works.
We Two Alone sets a poem (“A November Night”) by Sara Teasdale. Wachner was drawn to this particular poem because it represented a “voyage of memory,” and its autumnal mood and wistful refrain evoked a New England fall—qualities that seemed well suited to the Providence Singers’ anniversary celebration. We Two Alone is scored for Baroque instruments. Wachner included a marimba in the continuo, noting that it is often used in film scores to evoke a wide variety of emotions, with the goal of adding a “primitive, timeless feel” to the work.
Wachner’s compositional style has been described as “very Americana, firmly following in the steps of Copland and Bernstein.” That is certainly true of some of his work, but his eclectic and multifaceted output is not easily categorized. Wachner has described his music as lying "between the Apollonian world of church music and the academy and the Dionysian world of opera and the stage." In the liner notes of his Complete Choral Works, Vol. 1, he writes of this duality:
For me, I always found this a difficult decision to make, and thus found myself living and working in the no-man’s land between pure post-Impressionism and post-Expressionism—composing music that was criticized as "too simple" from one camp and "too complex" from the other. As I have always considered my compositional process and philosophy to be aligned with the assimilators of previous eras, (Bach, Stravinsky and Foss come to mind)—I have found equal inspiration from strict form or unbridled chaos; tonality, modality or post-tonality; and lyricism, pointillism or minimalism—I find it crucial to have as sweeping a palette of creative possibilities at my disposal as possible, believing that this desire is no different from any composer of the past.
A November Night
Sara Teasdale (1884 - 1933)
Sara Teasdale was an American lyric poet. Her third poetry collection, Rivers to the Sea, was published in 1915 and quickly became a perennial bestseller. In 1918, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 collection Love Songs, which included “A November Night.”
There! See the line of lights,
A chain of stars down either side the street—
Why can't you lift the chain and give it to me,
A necklace for my throat? I'd twist it round
And you could play with it. You smile at me
As though I were a little dreamy child
Behind whose eyes the fairies live. . . . And see,
The people on the street look up at us
All envious. We are a king and queen,
Our royal carriage is a motor bus,
We watch our subjects with a haughty joy. . . .
How still you are! Have you been hard at work
And are you tired to-night? It is so long
Since I have seen you—four whole days, I think.
My heart is crowded full of foolish thoughts
Like early flowers in an April meadow,
And I must give them to you, all of them,
Before they fade. The people I have met,
The play I saw, the trivial, shifting things
That loom too big or shrink too little, shadows
That hurry, gesturing along a wall,
Haunting or gay—and yet they all grow real
And take their proper size here in my heart
When you have seen them. . . . There's the Plaza now,
A lake of light! To-night it almost seems
That all the lights are gathered in your eyes,
Drawn somehow toward you. See the open park
Lying below us with a million lamps
Scattered in wise disorder like the stars.
We look down on them as God must look down
On constellations floating under Him
Tangled in clouds. . . . Come, then, and let us walk
Since we have reached the park. It is our garden,
All black and blossomless this winter night,
But we bring April with us, you and I;
We set the whole world on the trail of spring.
I think that every path we ever took
Has marked our footprints in mysterious fire,
Delicate gold that only fairies see.
When they wake up at dawn in hollow tree-trunks
And come out on the drowsy park, they look
Along the empty paths and say, "Oh, here
They went, and here, and here, and here! Come, see,
Here is their bench, take hands and let us dance
About it in a windy ring and make
A circle round it only they can cross
When they come back again!" . . . Look at the lake—
Do you remember how we watched the swans
That night in late October while they slept?
Swans must have stately dreams, I think. But now
The lake bears only thin reflected lights
That shake a little. How I long to take
One from the cold black water—new-made gold
To give you in your hand! And see, and see,
There is a star, deep in the lake, a star!
Oh, dimmer than a pearl—if you stoop down
Your hand could almost reach it up to me. . . .
There was a new frail yellow moon to-night—
I wish you could have had it for a cup
With stars like dew to fill it to the brim. . . .
How cold it is! Even the lights are cold;
They have put shawls of fog around them, see!
What if the air should grow so dimly white
That we would lose our way along the paths
Made new by walls of moving mist receding
The more we follow. . . . What a silver night!
That was our bench the time you said to me
The long new poem—but how different now,
How eerie with the curtain of the fog
Making it strange to all the friendly trees!
There is no wind, and yet great curving scrolls
Carve themselves, ever changing, in the mist.
Walk on a little, let me stand here watching
To see you, too, grown strange to me and far. . . .
I used to wonder how the park would be
If one night we could have it all alone—
No lovers with close arm-encircled waists
To whisper and break in upon our dreams.
And now we have it! Every wish comes true!
We are alone now in a fleecy world;
Even the stars have gone. We two alone!