Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It’s all I have to bring today -
This, and my heart beside -
This, and my heart, and all the fields -
And all the meadows wide -
Be sure you count - should I forget
Some one the sum could tell -
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

-- Emily Dickinson

In honor of National Poetry Month I’ve been posting poems for which I’ve written music. I’d loved Dickinson for years and years and always wanted to set something of hers. 2 friends were getting hitched and they asked me to sing something during the ceremony -- a rather awesome honor. What did they want me to sing? Anything I wanted, was the answer. Oh!

I thought of this poem and came up with a tune, mostly in the Mixolydian mode over a pulsing drone on the A string of the guitar, with one a-modal chord change near the end. I’m glad my friends liked it. My spouse said it’s one of the prettiest songs I ever wrote. It’s going to be on my band’s album, which, I swear by the breath in my body, I’ll finish before too long.

An early poem -- it's #26 of 1,775 in Thomas H. Johnson's authoritatively speculative chronolgical edition -- most editors leave it out of "selected" editions of her work. The later, knottier, often painful stuff socks it to me too, but I love this, and even in its relative simplicity, the antecedent to the opening word -- "It's" -- is mysterious and wonderful. What is the It? The poem itself is It, my friend Michael Barrish suggested. A likely candidate, but not definitive. I'm happy to leave It open.
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