Two Poems by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

This has been a very choral month for me with a reading from Revalia, an Estonian men’s choir, and a performance by Sospiro, a Eugene-based new music choir under the directorship of Chris Prosser.

I composed both of these pieces in September, and, due to time constraints, chose to set two short poems by Emily Dickinson:

Touch lightly Nature’s sweet Guitar
Unless thou know’st the Tune
Or every Bird will point at thee
Because a Bard too soon —


In this short Life
That only lasts an hour
How much — how little — is
Within our power

I really enjoy Dickinson’s pithiness probably for the same reasons that I admire Basho’s haiku, and the focus on humanity (as opposed to haiku’s focus on nature and imagery) gave me a lot to work with. Although I hadn’t intended so when I composed them, I think that the pair makes a nice set, probably because I composed them so close together in time, and at such a rate I wasn’t aware of how much each piece was borrowing from the other!


Touch lightly Nature’s sweet Guitar
for mixed choir, performed by Sospiro; Chris Olin, conductor


In this short Life
for men’s choir, performed by Revalia


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