This is the first piece in my song cycle, "Songs of the Sea." I selected the texts for this song cycle from a collection of poems written by late 19th century American poet and playwright Cale Young Rice. Each of the three texts attempts to grapple with different aspects of death and mortality while using rich imagery of the ocean. In Last Sight of Land the speaker wonders what their last few moments of life will be like - whether they will be dreary and regretful, or a triumphant plunge into the unknown. Widowed describes the lonely thoughts of someone who has lost a loved one. Finally, in Finitude the speaker muses about the small and temporary nature of life, contrasting it to the vastness of the ocean and the endlessness of the night sky. My greatest challenge while writing these songs was in trying to do justice to the beauty of the complex emotions present in each of the texts. This piece was commissioned by Skye Baxter and Benjamin Cooper. LAST SIGHT OF LAND CALE YOUNG RICE - 1921 The clouds in woe hang far and dim; I look again, and lo, Only a faint and shadow line Of shore—I watch it go. The gulls have left the ship and wheel Back to the cliff's gray wraith. Will it be so of all our thoughts When we set sail on Death? And what will the last sight be of life As lone we fare and fast? Grief and a face we love in mist— Then night and awe too vast? Or the dear light of Hope—like that, Oh, see, from the lost shore Kindling and calling "Onward, you Shall reach the Evermore!"
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