Saturday, December 31, 2022

We know we dream, we dream we know

My New Year's greeting for 2023 is a song set to a 1917 poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Here's the text:
What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an extremely popular American writer during the early years of the twentieth century, and I only just learned (while writing this post, actually, because I was too caught up in working on the music to do any research at all on her life and work) that a good number of her poems have been set to music.

But not this one (as far as I know).

You can find the music for medium voice here (there's also a version for high voice). You can listen to the medium voice version here, you can find the music for both on this page of the IMSLP.

The cover image (which I chose simply because I love it) is "A Masque for the Four Seasons" painted by the British painter Walter Crane between 1905 and 1909, at the height of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's fame. Walter Crane was born in 1845 and died in 1915. Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in 1850 and died in 1919. I had no idea that Walter Crane was a poet as well as a painter, and that he and Ella Wheeler Wilcox were published side-by-side in many magazines (Crane made illustrations for poems by James Russell Lowell in The Cosmopolitan). They were also both socialists.
It tickles me to see these people I could never have known (but maybe I dreamed I knew . . .), and only recently learned about, tied together in both a blog post and a piece of brand-new music as we approach the new year of 2023.

Happy New Year.


Dan said...

Thank you for this. Both music and text match my year-end mood. Plus it was fun to sing.

Elaine Fine said...

Thank you, Dan! I’m so glad that it resonated with you (literally and figuratively) right now and this year. We have all (everyone in the world) been through quite a “ride,” and it feels good to pause and take stock. All the best for the new year!