Dickinson and Copland Poems and Music

Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, set to music by Aaron Copland

This musical approach to Emily Dickinson may help you hear her poems anew.

Performed for the recital “For love of earth and sky” by Saira Frank, soprano and Ruben Piirainen, piano. Carroll University, Dorothy Goff Frisch Recital Hall

Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson by Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

1. Nature, the gentlest mother
2. There came a wind like a bugle
3. Why do they shut me out of Heaven?
4. The world feels dusty
5. Heart, we will forget him
6. Dear March, come in!
7. Sleep is supposed to be
8. When they come back
9. I felt a funeral in my brain
10. I’ve heard an organ talk sometimes
11. Going to Heaven!
12. The Chariot

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Nature — the Gentlest Mother

Nature — the Gentlest Mother is,
Impatient of no Child —
The feeblest — or the waywardest —
Her Admonition mild —

In Forest — and the Hill —
By Traveller — be heard —
Restraining Rampant Squirrel —
Or too impetuous Bird —

How fair Her Conversation —
A Summer Afternoon —
Her Household — Her Assembly —
And when the Sun go down —

Her Voice among the Aisles
Incite the timid prayer
Of the minutest Cricket —
The most unworthy Flower —

When all the Children sleep —
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light Her lamps —
Then bending from the Sky —

With infinite Affection —
And infiniter Care —
Her Golden finger on Her lip —
Wills Silence — Everywhere —

 

There came a Wind like a Bugle —

There came a Wind like a Bugle —
It quivered through the Grass
And a Green Chill upon the Heat
So ominous did pass
We barred the Windows and the Doors
As from an Emerald Ghost —
The Doom’s electric Moccasin
That very instant passed —
On a strange Mob of panting Trees
And Fences fled away
And Rivers where the Houses ran
Those looked that lived — that Day —
The Bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings told —
How much can come
And much can go,
And yet abide the World!

 

Why — do they shut Me out of Heaven?

Why — do they shut Me out of Heaven?
Did I sing — too loud?
But — I can say a little “Minor”
Timid as a Bird!

Wouldn’t the Angels try me —
Just — once — more —
Just — see — if I troubled them —
But don’t — shut the door!

Oh, if I — were the Gentleman
In the “White Robe” —
And they — were the little Hand — that knocked —
Could — I — forbid?

 

The World — feels Dusty

The World — feels Dusty
When We stop to Die —
We want the Dew — then —
Honors — taste dry —

Flags — vex a Dying face —
But the least Fan
Stirred by a friend’s Hand —
Cools — like the Rain —

Mine be the Ministry
When they Thirst comes —
And Hybla Balms —
Dews of Thessaly, to fetch —

 

Heart, we will forget him

Heart! We will forget him!
You and I — tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave —
I will forget the light!

When you have done, pray tell me
That I may straight begin!
Haste! lest while you’re lagging
I remember him!

 

Dear March — Come in —

Dear March — Come in —
How glad I am —
I hoped for you before —

Put down your Hat —
You must have walked —
How out of Breath you are —
Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me —
I have so much to tell —

I got your Letter, and the Birds —
The Maples never knew that you were coming — till I called
I declare — how Red their Faces grew —
But March, forgive me — and
All those Hills you left for me to Hue —
There was no Purple suitable —
You took it all with you —

Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door —
I will not be pursued —
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied —
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame —

 

Sleep is supposed to be

Sleep is supposed to be,
By souls of sanity,
The shutting of the eye.

Sleep is the station grand
Down which on either hand
The hosts of witness stand!

Morn is supposed to be,
By people of degree,
The breaking of the day.

Morning has not occurred!
That shall aurora be
East of eternity;

One with the banner gay,
One in the red array, —
That is the break of day.

 

When they come back

When they come back — if Blossoms do —
I always feel a doubt
If Blossoms can be born again
When once the Art is out —

When they begin, if Robins may,
I always had a fear
I did not tell, it was their last Experiment
Last Year,

When it is May, if May return,
Had nobody a pang
Lest in a Face so beautiful
He might not look again?

If I am there — One does not know
What Party — One may be
Tomorrow, but if I am there
I take back all I say —

 

I felt a funeral in my brain

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading — treading — till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through —

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum —
Kept beating — beating — till I thought
My Mind was going numb —

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space — began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here —

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down —
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing — then —

 

I’ve heard an Organ talk, sometimes

I’ve heard an Organ talk, sometimes
In a Cathedral Aisle,
And understood no word it said —
Yet held my breath, the while —

And risen up — and gone away,
A more Berdardine Girl —
Yet — know not what was done to me
In that old Chapel Aisle.

 

Going to heaven!

Going to Heaven!
I don’t know when —
Pray do not ask me how!
Indeed I’m too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to Heaven!
How dim it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the Shepherd’s arm!

Perhaps you’re going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first
Save just a little space for me
Close to the two I lost —
The smallest “Robe” will fit me
And just a bit of “Crown” —
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home —

I’m glad I don’t believe it
For it would stop my breath —
And I’d like to look a little more
At such a curious Earth!
I’m glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the might Autumn afternoon
I left them in the ground.

 

THE CHARIOT

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

We slowly drove—He knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility—

We passed the School, where Children strove
At recess—in the ring—
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
We passed the Setting Sun—

Or rather—He passed Us—
The Dews drew quivering and chill—
For only Gossamer, my Gown—
My Tippet—only Tulle—

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
The Cornice—in the Ground—

Since then—’tis centuries— and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity—

 

The text for these poems comes from the Wikisource entries for Emily Dickinson.

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