Songs of Fields and Prairies (cycle)
A beautifully crafted cycle about our many connections to the land.
Voicing: soprano, piano
duration: 10+ minutes
I. Call of the Open
Away from the din of the city,
The dust and grime of the street,
The hurry and press of the restless throng,
And the trample of many feet.
Out where the sunshine is brighter,
Out where the wind blows free.
Trees and rivers and lakes and hills
Are calling, calling me.
I long for the wide expanse of fields
Where the calm of the silent night
Throws a mantle of peace o’er the weary heart
And the cares of the day take flight;
For the whispering voice of summer winds
And the sparkle of dew on the lea,
And trees and rivers and lakes and hills
That are calling, calling me.
Then give me a house in a quiet nook
At the end of a winding lane
Where the sunshine bright and the moonbeams’ glow
Can steal through my window pane
And the trill of a bird from his leafy bower
And the scent of up-turned sod
Will bring me close to the things I love,
Nature and peace and God.
-Laura E. Bradshaw
II. Fall Fields
The sober-golden fields lie soaked in light,
Like a great rug with patterns interplight
Of tint and tone; God’s ancient place, the sky,
Turns paler blue above such tapestry.
-Richard Eugene Burton
III. Silent Noon
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass –
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
‘Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
‘Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragonfly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:
So this winged hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! We clasp our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.
-Dante Gabriel Rossetti
IV. The Prairie-Grass Dividing
The prairie-grass dividing – its special odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings,
Those of the open atmosphere, corase, sunlit, fresh, nutritious,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and command – leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell’d audacity – those with sweet and lusty flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain’d, never obedient,
Those of inland America.
– Walt Whitman
V. The Endless Root
Though wisdom underfoot
Dies in the bloody fields,
Slowly the endless root
Gathers again and yields.
In fields where hate has hurled
Its force, where folly rots,
Wisdom shall be unfurled
Small as forget-me-nots.
– Witter Bynner
VI. The Flower of the Field
All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
– Isaiah 40:6-8
The prairie grass sways softly
And lulls your rest, my dear.
The hills are green today,
Except the mound that covers you
So newly packed with fresh brown soil.
Goodbye my son, goodbye
To all we had of love.
Sweet dreams of peace to you
As I am bending low
With grief too great to bear.
Another spring will open seeds,
And level your small space
Fed by gentle rain and the torrent of our tears.
The hills you loved surround you,
Walking, riding, skiing, feeling
The land’s own burst each year,
So truly part of what you were,
They would not let you go.
And so you stay. Farewell, my dear.
– Anne Crichton Boise