excerpt from Leaves of Grass (#26, pp. 39-40) by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Music by Leonard Lehrman, Copyright 2008
Commissioned by The Walt Whitman Project
I think I will do nothing now but listen,
To accrue what I hear into myself--to let sounds contribute toward me.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat,
gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals;
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice;
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following;
Sounds of the city, and sounds out of the city--sounds of the day and night;
Talkative young ones to those that like them--the loud laugh of work-people at their meals;
The angry base of disjointed friendship--the faint tones of the sick;
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence;
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves--the refrain of the anchor-lifters;
The ring of alarm-bells--the cry of fire--the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts,
with premonitory tinkles, and color'd lights;
The steam-whistle--the solid roll of the train of approaching cars;
The slow-march play'd at the head of the association, marching two and two;
(They go to guard some corpse--the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.)
I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint;)
I hear the key'd cornet--it glides quickly in through my earts;
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
I hear the chorus--it is a grand opera;
Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me.
to view Feb. 8, 2012 performance at Walt Whitman Birthplace.