24. Frost in the Fall (3 songs)

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Musicians: SSAATTBB chorus, a cappella.

Length: 3:35 + 3:05 + 3:38 = 10:18

Program notes: Three adjacent poems from the last pages of A Boy's Will, the first book of poems published by Robert Frost, in 1913 and 1915. The first describes romance during a wild storm in September. The second is a peaceful appreciation of the passing beauty of October. The third is a reluctant acceptance of the coming of winter.

1. A Line-storm Song

THE line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift,
The road is forlorn all day,
Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift,
And the hoof-prints vanish away.
The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
Expend their bloom in vain.
Come over the hills and far with me,
And be my love in the rain.
*The birds have less to say for themselves
In the wood-world's torn despair
Than now these numberless years the elves,
Although they are no less there:*
All song of the woods is crushed like some
Wild, easily shattered rose.
Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,
Where the boughs rain when it blows.
There is the gale to urge behind
And bruit our singing down,
And the shallow waters aflutter with wind
From which to gather your gown.
What matter if we go clear to the west,
And come not through dry-shod?
For wilding brooch shall wet your breast:
The rain-fresh goldenrod.
Oh, never this whelming east wind swells
But it seems like the sea's return
To the ancient lands where it left the shells
Before the age of the fern;
And it seems like the time when after doubt
Our love came back amain.
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout
And be my love in the rain.

[*lines omitted from this setting*]

2. October

O HUSHED October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes' sake along the wall.

3. Reluctance

OUT through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept, and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

[Robert Frost, ca. 1913]

Robert Frost, ca. 1913 (when these poems were published)

New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection/Library of Congress

WikiMedia Commons

[covered bridge, NH]

covered bridge, Plymouth, New Hampshire

Peter Bird, 2012

[view of Squam Lake, NH]

Squam Lake, Holderness, New Hampshire

Peter Bird, 2012

[White Mt. sunset, NH]

sunset, White Mountains, New Hampshire

Peter Bird, 2012

[frosted leaf]

a touch of frost

Randi Hausken, Bćrum, Norway, 2010

WikiMedia Commons

[Autumn light, NH]

Autumn light, New Hampshire

Šarünas Burdulis

WikiMedia Commons

[Fall color, Stratton, ME]

Fall color, Stratton, Maine

pfly from Pugetopolis, 2006

WikiMedia Commons

[carpet of red Autumn leaves]

carpet of red Autumn leaves

Jim at flickr.com/photos/alphageek

WikiMedia Commons

Fresh Choral Music Online, by Peter Bird of Los Angeles