This is my letter to the World

for voice, flute, and piano texts by Emily Dickinson


This is my letter to the World

That never wrote to Me—

The simple News that Nature told—

With tender Majesty


Her Message is committed

To Hands I cannot see—

For love of Her—Sweet—countrymen— Judge tenderly—of Me


Bee! I’m expecting you!

Was saying Yesterday

To Somebody you know

That you were due—


The Frogs got Home last Week—

Are settled, and at work—

Birds, mostly back—

The Clover warm and thick—


You’ll get my Letter by

The seventeenth; Reply

Or better, be with me—

Yours, Fly


Snow beneath whose chilly softness

Some that never lay

Make their first Repose this Winter

I admonish Thee


Blanket Wealthier the Neighbor

We so new bestow

Than thine acclimated Creature

Wilt Thou, Austere Snow?


Title divine—is mine!

The Wife—without the Sign!

Acute Degree—conferred on me —

Empress of Calvary!

Royal—all but the Crown!

Betrothed—without the swoon

God sends us Women—

When you—hold—Garnet to Garnet—

Gold—to Gold—


In a Day—


“My Husband”—women say—

Stroking the Melody—

Is this—the way?


A Spider sewed at Night

Without a light

Upon an arc of white.


If ruff it was of dame

Or shroud of gnome

Himself himself inform.


Of immortality

His strategy

Was physiognomy.


I taste a liquor never brewed,

From tankards scooped in pearl;

Not all the vats upon the Rhine

Yield such an alcohol!


Inebriate of air am I,

And debauchee of dew,

Reeling, through endless summer days,

From inns of molten blue.


When landlords turn the drunken bee

Out of the foxglove’s door,

When butterflies renounce their drams,

I shall but drink the more!


Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,

And saints to windows run,

To see the little tippler

Leaning against the sun!



“Bee!,” “Snow,” and “Title divine” are used by permission of Harvard University Press and are from Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © renewed 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1914, 1918, 1919, 1924, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1942, by Martha Dickinson Bianchi. Copyright © 1952, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1965, by Mary L. Hampson.


Herstory I

for soprano, vibraphone and piano


Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn

text by Anne Sexton


The summer sun ray

shifts through a suspicious tree

though I walk through the

valley of the shadow

It sucks the air

and looks around for me.


The grass speaks.

I hear green chanting all day.

I will fear no evil, fear no evil

The blades extend

and reach my way.


The sky breaks.

It sags and breathes upon my face.

in the presence of mine enemies,

mine enemies

The world is full of enemies.

There is no safe place.


Her Kind

text by Anne Sexton


I have gone out, a possessed witch,

haunting the black air, braver at night;

dreaming evil, I have done my hitch

over the plain houses, light by light:

lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.

A woman like that is not a woman, quite.

I have been her kind.


I have found the warm caves in the woods,

filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,

closets, silks, innumerable goods;

fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:

whining, rearranging the disaligned.

A woman like that is misunderstood.

I have been her kind.


I have ridden in your cart, driver,

waved my nude arms at villages going by,

learning the last bright routes, survivor

where your flames still bite my thighs

and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.

A woman like that is not ashamed to die.

I have been her kind.


Side by Side

text by Adrienne Rich


Ho! in the dawn

how light we lie


stirring faintly as laundry

left all night on the line.


Lassitude drapes our folds.

We’re slowly bleaching


with the days, the hours, and the years.

We are getting finer than ever,


time is wearing us to silk,

to sheer spiderweb.


The eye of the sun, rising, looks in to ascertain how we are coming on.


For a Child

A. The Crib

text by Adrienne Rich


You sleeping I bend to cover.

Your eyelids work. I see

your dream, cloudy as a negative,

swimming underneath.

You blurt a cry. Your eyes

spring open, still filmed in dream.

Wider, they fix me—

—death’s head, sphinx, medusa?

You scream.

Tears lick my cheeks, my knees

droop at your fear.

Mother I no more am,

but woman, and nightmare.


A. Morning Song

text by Sylvia Plath


All night your moth-breath

Flickers among the flat pink roses.

I wake to listen:

A far sea moves in my ear.


The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars.

And now you try

Your handful of notes;

The clear vowels rise like balloons.



text by Sylvia Plath


I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.

Whatever I see I swallow immediately

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

I am not cruel, only truthful—

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

It is pink with speckles. I have looked at it so long

I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.

Faces and darkness separate us over and over.


Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,

Searching my reaches for what she really is.

Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.


I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.

She rewards me with tears and an agitation of the hands.


I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.



text by Anne Sexton


Death starts like a dream,

full of objects and my sister’s laughter.

We are young and we are walking

and picking wild blueberries

all the way to Damariscotta.

Oh Susan, she cried,

you’ve stained your new waist.

Sweet taste—

my mouth so full

and the sweet blue running out

all the way to Damariscotta.

What are you doing? Leave me alone!

Can’t you see I’m dreaming?

In a dream you are never eighty.



text by Pam White



Weave my threads to sleep,

Old woman threads bring sleep to thyselves.



Let long age close my eyes.

Let shadows fade from sight.

Sleep now sleep and weave.



And red and orange pale into sky.

Dreams done color slowly seeps

from sprouted seeds, her



Her long shoots of life cover

Sleeping woman in a silver dream tapestry.



Soft woman, sleeping woman.

Shadows weave the song of death

Speak of death in



“Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn” and “Her Kind” from To Bedlam and Part Way Back, © 1960, “Old” from All My Pretty Ones, © 1961 by Anne Sexton reprinted by permission of SLL/Sterling

“Side by Side” and “The Crib” © 1966 by Adrienne Rich from Necessities of Life, recorded by permission of The Frances Goldin Literary Agency.

“Morning Song” from Ariel: Poems by Sylvia Plath © 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 by Ted Hughes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. Publishers. “Mirror” from Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath © 1971 by Ted Hughes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins.




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