Vincent Millay Cycle (2010)

by Thomas Oboe Lee

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released December 20, 2012

Mary Hubbell, soprano
Brent Funderburk, piano

Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Music by Thomas Oboe Lee

Elebash Recital Hall
Graduate Center, CUNY
Kamilo Kratc, sound engineer and editor
August 28, 2012

© Departed Feathers Music, BMI

Text used by permission of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, the Millay Society

Photo credit: Thomas Oboe Lee



all rights reserved


Thomas Oboe Lee Cambridge, Massachusetts

Thomas Oboe Lee was born in China in 1945. He lived in São Paulo, Brazil, for six years before coming to the United States in 1966. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, he studied composition at the New England Conservatory and Harvard University. He has been a member of the music faculty at Boston College since 1990.
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Track Name: Vincent Millay Cycle 01 Song of the Nations
1. Song of the Nations

Out of
Night and alarm
Out of
Darkness and dread,
Out of old hate,
Grudge and distrust,
Sin and remorse,
Passion and blindness;
Shall come
Dawn and the birds,
Shall come
Slacking of greed,
Snapping of fear-------
Love shall fold warm like a cloak
Round the shuddering earth
Till the sound of its woe cease.

Terrible dreams,
crying in sleep,
Grief beyond thought,
Twisting of hands,
Tears from shut lids
Wetting the pillow;
Shall come
Sun on the wall,
Shall come sounds from the street,
Children at play---
Bubbles too big blown, and dreams
Filled too heavy with horror
Will burst and in mist fall.

Sing then,
You who were dumb,
Shout then
Into the dark;
Are we not one?
Are not our hearts
Hot from one fire,
And in one mold cast?
Out of
Night and alarm,
Out of
Terrible dreams,
Reach me your hand,
This is the meaning of all that we
Suffered in sleep, ---the white peace
Of the waking.
Track Name: Vincent Millay Cycle 02 Daphne
2. Daphne

Why do you follow me?
Any moment I can be
Nothing but a laurel-tree.

Any moment of the chase
I can leave you in my place
A pink bough for your embrace.

Yet if over hill and hollow
Still it is your will to follow,
I am off; ---to heel, Apollo!
Track Name: Vincent Millay Cycle 03 Never May the Fruit Be Plucked
3. Never May the Fruit Be Plucked

Never, never may the fruit be plucked from the bough
And gathered into barrels.
He that would eat of love must eat where it hangs.
Though the branches bend like reeds,
Though the ripe fruit splash in the grass or wrinkle on the tree,
He that would eat of love may bear away from him
Only what his belly can hold,
Nothing in the apron,
Nothing in the pockets.
Never, never may the fruit be gathered from the bough
And harvested in barrels.
The winter of love is the cellar of empty bins,
In an orchard soft with rot.
Track Name: Vincent Millay Cycle 04 Hyacinth
4. Hyacinth

I am in love with him to whom the hyacinth is dearer
Than I shall ever be dear.
On nights when the field-mice are abroad he cannot sleep;
He hears their narrow teeth at the bulbs of his hyacinths,
But the gnawing at my heart he does not hear.
Track Name: Vincent Millay Cycle 05 Justice Denied in Massachusetts
5. Justice Denied in Massachusetts

Let us abandon then our gardens and go home
And sit in the sitting-room.
Shall the larkspur blossom or the corn grow under this cloud?
Sour to the fruitful seed
Is the cold earth under this cloud,
Fostering quack and weed, we have marched upon but cannot conquer;
We have bent the blades of our hoes against the stalks of them.

Let us go home, and sit in the sitting-room.
Not in our day
Shall the cloud go over and the sun rise as before,
Beneficent upon us
Out of the glittering bay,
And the warm winds be blown inward from the sea
Moving the blades of corn
With a peaceful sound.
Forlorn, forlorn,
Stands the blue hay-rack by the empty mow.
And the petals drop to the ground,
Leaving the tree unfruited.
The sun that warmed our stooping backs and withered the weed uprooted---
We shall not feel it again.
We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain.

What from the splendid dead
We have inherited---
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued---
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.

Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children’s children this beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.
Track Name: Vincent Millay Cycle 06 This Dusky Faith
6. This Dusky Faith

Why, then, weep not,
Since naught’s to weep.

Too wild, too hot
For a dead thing,
Altered and cold,
Are these long tears:
To the sovereign force
Of the pulling past
What you cannot hold
Is reason’s course.

Wherefore, sleep.

Or sleep to the rocking
Rather, of this:
The silver knocking
Of the moon’s knuckles
At the door of the night;
Death here becomes
Being, nor truckles
To the sun, assumes
Light as its light.

So, too, this dusky faith
In Man, transcends its death,
Shines out, gains emphasis;
Shorn of the tangled past,
Shows its fine skull at last,
Cold, lovely satellite.