Wednesday, April 13, 2016

npm pmmu #13: maggie and milly and merchant and may

I've always been a fan of both E.E. Cummings  and of Natalie Merchant and her erstwhile band 10,000 Maniacs.  In 2010, Natalie recorded a double album of music inspired by and adapted from British and American poetry on the subject of childhood.  Leave Your Sleep includes the Cummings poem below, set to a melody of delicate richness.

maggie and milly and molly and may || E.E. Cummings


maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

This musical setting feels perfect for the poem because of the way it ebbs and flows, and how it allows plenty of space for each small story, each small(or: giantwide) discovery--each stanza has its own melodic character, just as each girl finds herself in the sea...just lovely.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Heidi, I had never heard this and it's wonderful!!! I love it. Music and words together are so much more than either without. That cello was just perfect.

    I always find myself in the sea, too.


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