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Sleep

sleep

I hope  those familiar with the music of Eric Whitacre know his song “Sleep.” Its background is interesting.

Whitacre set the text of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” for mixed chorus, but failed to seek permission from the executors of Frost’s estate beforehand. Perhaps I, too, would have thought anything that brought Frost’s poems to a larger audience — a musical audience, perhaps, not inclined to what some may think an overly romantic work from a distant age — the Frost Trust could have been approved, possibly even with gratitude or at most requiring the payment of a modest royalty. Not so, dear reader. They flatly refused to allow its use.

Having composed a lovely setting that, in my estimation, would only have enhanced our appreciation of Frost, Whitacre chose another creative outlet: He approached Charles Anthony Sylvestri, a poet who has often worked with contemporary composers, to write a text sympathetic to Whitacre’s tone and meter. The result is “Sleep,” which I encourage you to hear on CD or this recording on Vimeo. Then tell me that Frost isn’t rolling in his eternal resting place, wherever that may be, with unbridled envy.

SLEEP
©2001 by Charles Anthony Silvestri

The evening hangs beneath the moon,
A silver thread on darkened dune.
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon.

Upon my pillow, safe in bed,
A thousand pictures fill my head.
I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight;
And yet my limbs seem made of lead.

If there are noises in the night,
A frightening shadow, flickering light,
Then I surrender unto sleep,
Where clouds of dream give second sight,

What dreams may come, both dark and deep,
Of flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep,
As I surrender unto sleep.

What dreams may come, indeed, Robin Williams. What dreams may come?


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