Letters from Edna -- 8 songs for Mezzo and Piano

Song Cycle by Juliana Hall (b. 1958)

Word count: 1025

1. To Mr. Ficke and Mr. Bynner [sung text checked 1 time]

Mr. Earle has acquainted me with your wild surmises. Gentlemen: 
I must convince you of your error; my reputation is at stake. I simply 
will not be a “brawny male.” Not that I have an aversion to brawny 
males; au contraire, au contraire. But I cling to my femininity!

Is it that you consider brain and brawn so inseparable? — I have thought
otherwise. Still, that is all a matter of personal opinion. But, 
gentlemen: when a woman insists that she is twenty, you must not, 
must not call her forty-five. That is more than wicked; it is indiscreet.

Mr. Ficke, you are a lawyer. I am very much afraid of lawyers. Spare me, 
kind sir! Take into consideration my youth — for I am indeed but 
twenty — and my fragility — for “I do protest I am a maid” — and — sleuth 
me no sleuths!

Seriously: I thank you also for the compliment you have unwittingly 
given me. For tho I do not yet aspire to be forty-five and brawny, if 
my verse so represents me, I am more gratified than I can say. When I 
was a little girl, this is what I thought and wrote:

Let me not shout into the world’s great ear
Ere I have something for the world to hear.
Then let my message like an arrow dart
And pierce a way into the world’s great heart.

Authorship

Excerpt from a letter to Mr. Ficke and Mr. Bynner (December 5, 1912, Camden, Maine). Letter no. 9.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. To Arthur Davison Ficke [sung text checked 1 time]

Shall I give your regards to Broadway, — now that I am here within 
hailing distance of it? To any question that you might raise concerning 
my presence in this locality I could only answer, “I’m here because 
I’m here because I’m here.” And I might add that I expect to take 
a few courses at Columbia this semester.

Yesterday I got a note from Sara Teasdale, inviting me to take tea with 
her. Whaddayouknowaboutthat! The news of my arrival has sprud clean from 
here to East 29th Street!

How do I like New York? O, inexpressibly! Yes, the Public Library is! No, 
the subway isn’t! O, the St. Patrick Cathedral! — Quite too sweet, I 
assure you! And the view — charming, charming! So many roofs and things, 
you know; warships, and chimneys, and brewery signs — so inspiring! 
Yes, to the Madison Avenue Presbyterian! Dr. Coffin is wonderful. O, 
my dear, — tremendous!

Authorship

An excerpt from a letter to Arthur Davison Ficke (February 9, 1913, New York). Letter no. 18.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. To Anne Gardner Lynch [sung text checked 1 time]

I have just got your letter. Oh, if I could just get my arms about 
you! — And stay with you like that for hours, telling you so many 
things, & listening to all that you must have to say. — I love you very 
much, dear Anne, & I always shall. — Ours was a perfect friendship — I
knew it at the time — and it is still just as true. I would do anything 
in the world for you, & I know that you would for me. — And it doesn’t 
matter if we never write, and never see each other, it is just the 
same, — except that it would be so nice to see each other!

Authorship

An excerpt from a letter to Anne Gardner Lynch (December 23, 1921, Vienna, Austria). Letter No. 96.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. To Harriet Monroe [sung text checked 1 time]

Spring is here, — and I could be very happy, except that I am broke. Would 
you mind paying me now instead of on publication for those so stunning 
verses of mine which you have? I am become very, very thin, and have
taken to smoking Virginia tobacco.

P.S. I am awfully broke. Would you mind paying me a lot?

Authorship

A letter to Harriet Monroe (March 1, 1918, New York City). Letter No. 56.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. To Norma Millay [sung text checked 1 time]

I am working like the devil, which is why I don’t write more 
letters — & I suppose you are, too — which is why you don’t 
write more letters, — but it does seem a long long time, little 
sweet sing, since us heard from each other! — I have your beautiful
photograph right up in front of me on my work table, & as I do a
lot of work, I just naturally has to look at it, whether I want
to or not, but the joke is on it, because I allus wants to!

Authorship

An excerpt from a letter to Norma Millay (May 25, 1921, Paris). Letter No. 81.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. To Arthur Davison Ficke [sung text checked 1 time]

I have wanted so often to write you -- not that I like writing 
letters -- I loathe it — but just that I have wanted to write 
to you. About what, I don’t know, in particular. -- Perhaps to 
ask the advice of the Sage of the Hill -- perhaps to tell you 
that the young wrens in the house under the peak of the ice-house 
are flying this morning (and what a to-do! And what beautiful singing 
from their father! -- as if to say: some day you will have as 
handsome feathers as I, and a tail that sticks up straight behind 
your rump, and a song as beautiful as mine -- you boys, that is, -- and
even you girls will have fun, engineering long twigs through small 
doorways!) -- this is just to say Hello, darling Artie. --

Authorship

A letter to Arthur Davison Ficke (July 9, 1943, Steepletop – Austerlitz, New York). Letter No. 238.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. To Arthur Davison Ficke [sung text checked 1 time]

It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn
thing over & over — there’s the rub — first you get sick — then you get
sicker — then you get not quite so sick — then you get hardly sick at 
all — then you get a little sicker — then you get a lot sicker — then
you get not quite so sick — oh, hell

Authorship

A letter to Arthur Davison Ficke (October 24, 1930). Letter No. 171.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. To Mother  [sung text checked 1 time]

Do you know, almost all people love their mothers, but I have never met 
anybody in my life, I think, who loved his mother as much as I love you. 
I don’t believe there ever was anybody who did, quite so much, and quite
in so many wonderful ways. I was telling somebody yesterday that the 
reason I am a poet is entirely because you wanted me to be and intended 
I should be, even from the very first. You brought me up in the tradition
of poetry, and everything I did you encouraged. Some parents of children
that are “different” have so much to reproach themselves with. But not
you, Great Spirit.

If I didn’t keep calling you mother, anybody reading this would think I 
was writing to my sweetheart. And he would be quite right.

Well, dear, this is enough for now. I will write again soon.

Authorship

A letter to her mother (June 15, 1921, Paris). Letter No. 82.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]