Vignettes - Trees

Song Cycle by Stanley Grill (b. 1953)

Word count: 348
musical settings of poems
by William Carlos Williams

for 2 voices and 2 cellos

1. Love Song [sung text checked 1 time]

Sweep the house clean,
hang fresh curtains
in the windows
put on a new dress
and come with me!
The elm is scattering
its little loaves
of sweet smells
from a white sky!

Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

2. The Botticellian Trees [sung text checked 1 time]

The alphabet of
the trees
is fading in the
song of the leaves
the crossing
bars of thin
letters that spelled
winter
and the cold
have been illumined
with
pointed green—
by the rain and sun—
The strict simple
principles of
straight branches
are being modified
by pinched-out
ifs of color, devout
conditions
the smiles of love—

unit the stript
sentences
move as a woman’s
limbs under cloth
and praise from secrecy
quick with desire
love’s ascendancy
in summer—
In summer the song
sings itself
above the muffled words—

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. The Soughing Wind [sung text checked 1 time]

Some leaves hang late, and some fall 
Before the first frost - so goes
The tale of winter branches and old bones.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

4. Epitaph [sung text checked 1 time]

An old willow with hollow branches
Slowly swayed his few high bright tendrils
And sang:

“Love is a young green willow
Shimmering at the bare wood’s edge.”

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

5. Winter Trees [sung text checked 1 time]

All the complicated details 
of the attiring and 
the disattiring are completed! 
A liquid moon 
moves gently among 
the long branches. 
Thus having prepared their buds 
against a sure winter 
the wise trees 
stand sleeping in the cold.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

6. The Bare Tree [sung text checked 1 time]

The bare cherry tree
higher than the roof
last year produced
abundant fruit. But how
speak of fruit confronted
by that skeleton?
Though live it may be
there is no fruit on it.
Therefore chop it down
and use the wood
against this biting cold.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

7. Love Song [sung text checked 1 time]

I lie here thinking of you: --

the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branched the lean
heavily
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world-

you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]