PROGRAMME NOTES

An E.E.Cummings Song Cycle

Mezzo and piano (1965)
1. i thank You God
A religious affirmation of gratitude for the wonders of nature. (The title uses upper-case letters which are very rare in Cummings)

2. no time ago
A night-time trance-like encounter with christ jesus (lower case this time) finding him ‘made of nothing except loneliness’.

3. up into the silence
A gently erotic love poem in summer with a refrain of ‘kiss me’.

4. love is the every only god
A celebration of the primacy of love comparing the beloved’s eyes to ‘any illimitable star’.

5. love is more thicker
A series of facetious attempts to analyse love.

There is a further song, ‘Somewhere I have never travelled’, that was removed from the cycle but can be sung separately.

E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) was the first American poet Peter Dickinson set - Gregory Corso and Emily Dickinson came later – and the first cycle written for his sister Meriel, with whom he had an extended partnership in recitals, broadcasts and recordings. The writing creates a counterpart to Cummings’ poetic techniques using the contrast of offsetting black-note and white-note modes.

The first performance of the cycle was by Meriel Dickinson and John McCabe at the Cheltenham Festival on 13 July 1967; the first BBC Radio 3 broadcast was by Meriel Dickinson and the composer on 26 July 1972 and they have also recorded it.

© 2008-17 Peter Dickinson

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