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"A sun among men"--the E.E. Cummings songs of Paul Nordoff.

Paul Nordoff (1909-1977) is perhaps best remembered today for his pioneering contributions to the field of music therapy, in collaboration with his close colleague, Clive Robbins (1927-2011). Prior to 1960, however, Nordoff had achieved a modicum of fame as an American composer and professor of composition. In the late 1950s he turned his back almost entirely on composition and devoted the remainder of his life to working with children with physical and mental challenges through the medium of music. This volte face in mid-career undoubtedly played a primary role in the demise of public awareness of his accomplishments as a composer. Lamentably, his large output of music is almost completely forgotten today. Recently Robbins wrote, "Alongside his clinical work as a creative therapist, and for as long as I had known him, Paul understandably carried the regret that his compositions from the twenty-five years prior to music therapy were not being performed, and that he was not known as the composer he knew himself to be." (1) Nordoff was a humble, sincere man, not predisposed to aggressive self-promotion, nor likely to have a falsely aggrandized opinion of his accomplishments and worth as a composer. It is the purpose of this article to raise awareness not only of the extent of NordofFs contribution to American art song, but also to extol the unsuspected virtues of this music, with particular emphasis on his settings of poetry by that icon of mid-century American poetic iconoclasm, E.E. Cummings. (2)

Nordoff had a particular love of poetry, and his devotion to the art song medium was comparable in some ways to that of Hugo Wolf. He set many poems by rather few poets, in bursts of feverish activity over short periods of time. His devotion to the poetry of Cummings spanned his entire creative life, and of his more than 150 songs, no fewer than 37 are settings of Cummings poems, more than of any other poet. Only a small fraction of Nordoffs art songs were published during his lifetime, the others having remained in manuscript in private collections to the present day. The result has inevitably been an almost complete lack of awareness of his seminal contribution to American art song, one that places him on a par with Barber, Copland, and Rorem. His kindred spirit oneness with Cummings's muse is as tightly woven as that between Wolf and Goethe, or Finzi and Hardy, and the artistic result no less impressive. This seemingly rash, headlong endorsement of an apparently minor figure in American music merely requires exposure to the scores and to anticipated future recordings of these songs to justify, and to redress the neglect that Nordoff has suffered at the hands of circumstance. There was a time when Nordoffs rather traditional, neo-Romantic approach to composition would have met with furrowed brows, condescending righteousness, and outright condemnation, both in America and beyond. He was a composer who had the integrity (and temerity) to remain true to his creative instincts, at whatever cost to his reception and fame. His own awareness of being out of joint with prevailing trends may indeed have played into his career-changing epiphany during the late 1950s. The irony is that, especially in his earlier years, he was a staunch advocate for the newest trends in music. Few commentators have given the Nordoff songs consideration--the exception being Ruth Friedberg, who devotes several pages to a discussion of his career and published song output, and had the privilege of meeting him in 1975. (3) With our present hindsight, the time is ripe to reconsider Nordoffs place in the chronicle of twentieth century American art song.

It is noteworthy that mid-century composers were slow in choosing Cummings's poetry for musical purposes. In a 1949 letter, Cummings states that Nordoff is "the only composer who has set poems of mine to music." (4) Nordoff met Cummings in the late 1930s, and they remained friends throughout the 1940s. The composer once told a friend, "He was a very special American poet, and a very, very great one. I knew him very well, and I set many of his poems." (5) Cummings was politically an antisocialist, whose poetry is often about the individual rather than the collective or abstract. This orientation toward the individual may explain why few choral settings of Cummings have ever been made, in contrast to art songs.

A 1946 letter from Cummings to Nordoff, written while in Tucson, Arizona, merits quoting, if only to illustrate how Cummings's hallmark "ungrammar" was not limited to his literary creations:

Dear Paul--

delighted, and more than, to hear you've been (however briefly interruptedly or otherwise painfully) composing: that's infinitely the best news you could have given me!

perhaps the undersigned dimly appreciates your major difficulties through a hereabouts minor version thereof; anyhow, am only beginning to (perhaps) begin to work, or (in other words) to be. Arizona's inhabitants are doubtless agreeable by contrast with Michigan's; but (believe it or don't) I've never before seen so many ghosts at once. Ghosts of what? Haven't the feeblest idea--can merely affirm they wouldn't inexist an hour East of Chicago. Particularly confusing isn't the unfact that almost nobody ever seems quite real,& is the fact that almost everybody appears bent--sic--on gooddoing. Mais assez de ca; or (may I quote Confucius?) "gentleman blames himself, ungentleman blames others". & I'll quietly add that, if Tucson produced a Shakespeare the Battle of Agincourt would become a submondayschoolpicnic for ungrownnonups (6)

The letter infers a possible creative block suffered by Nordoff at that time. A second letter, from 1948, is more specific:

Dear Paul--

it's good to hear you've outgrown your "great depressions." I've the very great honour to inform you that you're way ahead of me! Am possibly emerging from an impossible & v.v. one at the socalled present writing

which only makes myself happier for your friendship concerning uncertainty (alias insecurity, or whatever mostpeople fear) I rather imagine that insofaras an artist is worth his spiritual salt he can never get enough. Only when Columbus is in the middle of nowhere do the members of his crew invariably (&, from my viewpoint, rightly!) stage a mutiny & threaten himself with at least seventeen kinds of superdeath but who'd care to not discover America by mistake? (7)

There is no doubt that Cummings held Nordoff's musical settings of his poetry in high esteem. He called them "luminous," and described them as "music which I not merely like but love." We know that Nordoff once invited Cummings to hear him play and sing several of his settings, including "if there are any heavens," "little tree," and "love"--to which Cummings expressed his gratitude by saying that his music is "beyond praise (sorry, therefore, I tried to praise--& how clumsily!)." (8) Cummings's praise is noteworthy, in that the poet did not suffer fools easily, and few composers--even among the most renowned--can boast comparable testimonial from a poet. (9) It takes a special artistic courage to set musically the texts of living poets, particularly ones you know personally and admire. Cummings was severe and uncompromising in his artistic, aesthetic, and ethical convictions. His fierce integrity had no room for the throngs of Americans bound by social convention, and he hated vacuous politesse or the merest hint of hypocrisy. He once turned down an invitation from President Kennedy in 1962 to dine at the White House with other distinguished writers and artists with whom he felt no artistic affinity. In his earlier years he was viewed, in Richard Kennedy's words, as "one of the leaders of the literary revolt of the 1920's--the cubist painter, the dadaist dabbler, the daring linguistic experimenter, the ruthless satirist who heaped scorn on American culture." (10) There are parallels here with other American artists, from Thoreau and Ayn Rand, to Charles Ives and Harry Partch, all relentless and largely isolated in the pursuit of their respective aesthetic convictions. Cummings's and Nordoffs mutual respect did not extend to the poet's condoning Nordoffs professional transformation into therapy, and he considered it a form of artistic desertion. The composer understood the poet perhaps better than vice-versa. Robbins understood the deep connection when, in reference to the composer performing his own songs, he says,

As regards Paul as a creative music therapist, playing and singing his songs is only one step away from doing the same process in the moment with a living model for inspiration. Same energy, love, resourcefulness, expressive freedom, presence of being. (11)


Table 1 is a list of all 37 Cummings/Nordoff settings known to the present author. In this list they are arranged chronologically according to the date of publication of the poem. Many of Cummings's early poems were unpublished until much later in his career, in which case the date of the manuscript collection is employed. Since it was not Cummings's habit to provide titles to his poems, they must be listed according to the incipit, or first line of the poem. When Nordoffs title differs from that, his title is also provided on the right. The Nordoff numbering is chronological by date of composition, and cross-references to the discussion of the songs infra.

Cummings was precise in his use of syntax, punctuation, and capitalization, as artistic tools to convey meaning. Nordoff chooses to normalize grammar or punctuation in some titles. Cummings's choice of text layout can be somewhat disorienting when he employs visual calligrams in the text. It is not surprising that the more inventive and free a poet is with language, and the more a poem relies on visual stimuli for its effect, the less likely a composer will choose that poem for a musical setting. (12)


Nordoff grouped his Cummings songs into sets according to the time periods when they were written. In terms of poetry and conception, there is no further cyclic connection between the individual songs of a group. His choice of poetry follows no apparent plan in terms of the date of composition of the poem, as Table 1 reflects. His interest in the early poems endures from his earliest settings in 1941 to the Dornach set of 1956. The two latest songs are exceptions, being settings of late poems that had been published posthumously in 1963. The song settings group themselves chronologically as illustrated in Table 2.

Nordoff was a pianist who also possessed an untrained but serviceable tenor voice. He combined these talents to make taped recordings of himself playing and singing his own songs--no mean feat, given the pianistic and vocal challenges of much of his writing. He made a song tape for his friend "Hep" which contains, among other songs, performances of ten of his Cummings settings. (13) Uncited quotations in the ensuing discussion are from that recording. His love of this poetry is evident throughout the tape, both in his careful, tender reading of each poem prior to its musical performance, and in his associated commentary on the poems.


Three Songs for mezzo-soprano (N1-3)

These songs were written in the span of two days in December, 1941, at Sneden's Landing (now known as Palisades, New York). Nordoff, like Schubert and Wolf, composed songs with intense rapidity, often more than one in a day. This pattern can be seen throughout the Cummings settings.

N1 "who knows" (December 6)

This poem is perhaps best remembered for having provided David Niven with the title of his published personal memoirs, The Moon's a Balloon. Nordoff prefaces his first Cummings setting by admonishing the singer to ensure "crisp enunciation"--advice that surely applies to all of these songs, which depend so crucially on clarity of diction for their effect. A square-cut 4/4 sets the wondrous fairy tale scene. The delight of sailing away in the balloon is rendered in a lilting 6/8 (Example 1).

N2 "is there a flower" (December 6)

This sensuous poem is given a short, unadorned musical setting, with a curiously spare texture at the beginning.

We shall encounter such delicate two-part counterpoint in a few of the other songs as well. As the poem increases in emotional intensity ("like these first deepest rare quite who are your eyes"), the harmonies become more lush, opening into a slow waltz for four bars, then returning to the meter, if not the sparseness of the opening, to end. The sense of time standing still, created by the slow tempo (even slower in the waltz), is a hallmark of several of the Cummings settings. The echoes of a simpler, more genuinely human time period, pervade many of the poet's creations, and are invariably captured in music unafraid to be ingenuous and tender.

N3 "if there are any heavens" (December 7)

Nordoff assures us that "this is a poem he wrote about his [Cummings's] mother." Unlike the first two songs, the text is set here in a free, parlando manner, rather like a spontaneous eulogizing recitative. This love poem exists on two levels--that between child and parents, and that between mother and father. The bond between father and mother is portrayed musically by the intertwining motifs in voice and piano, in one of Nordoff's most ecstatic moments (Example 2).


Nordoff did not grant these three songs (N4-6) a unified title in his manuscripts, although they were all composed in the spring of 1943, in Summerdale, Pennsylvania.

N4 "anyone lived in a pretty how town / anyone & noone (a story)" (May 17)

One of Cummings's most anthologized and analyzed poems, it tells the love story of "anyone" and "noone" in dactylic tetrameters. Nordoff sets much of the townsfolk narrative with mantra-like repeated G# eighth notes in the accompaniment (Example 3), reflecting both the passage of much time and the uninspired sameness of the villagers' lives--the "women and men (both little and small)."

It is notable that the composer resists the triplets implicit in the dactyl, denying the potential dance with stolid duplets in a 4/4 meter. The overall effect of the music is one of melancholy. One senses an idyllic scene with an undercurrent of regret, remorse, or even tragedy. Of the "sun moon stars rain," the composer chooses to focus on the rain. This quartet and its parallel "spring summer autumn winter" are repeated refrains throughout the poem, appearing in different order and contexts. Nordoffs response is to provide a chromatically descending four-note Leitmotif, first heard in bars 17-20 (Example 4), and again at the end of the song.

Although Nordoffs harmonic language is tonal, he stretches his harmonic vocabulary for dramatic purposes (Example 5), just after the lovers are buried, as the poem echoes the rhythm of "dust to dust, ashes to ashes."

This haunting song exists in two autograph versions, musically identical except for the clef in which the vocal line is written. The treble clef version bears the title "anyone & noone (a story)"--Nordoff was nowhere freer with the original poem than in his invention of this title--and is dedicated to his composition student, Romeo Cascarino. Cascarino had some success himself as a composer, with an opera, William Penn, produced in October 1982 at the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He published a cycle of eight songs of considerable merit, Pathways of Love, written when he was sixteen. (14)

N5 "love" (June 24)

The composer states, "I hesitated to play this for him, because I set it in a kind of night-club style. But he liked it very much." Marked "lazily," the song is "to be sung freely as improvisation," and he reflects that freedom in the protean syncopated rhythms of the vocal line.

A slow regular 12/8 in the accompaniment (one can hear the drum brushes) provides the steady grid for the singer's spontaneity.

N6 "these children singing in stone" (June 24)

Composed on the same day as N5, this song could not be more different in style. Nordoff tells us, "this is the poem he wrote to the della Robbia children--the children in the frieze." This is a reference to Luca della Robbia's 1431-38 Cantoria, or "Singing gallery," in the Basilica della Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. The children in the sculpture are singing, dancing, and playing instruments to the glorification of God. Cummings, ignoring their obvious joy, creates a commentary on their stony stasis, fixed in a moment, singing yet forever silent. The poem is the textual equivalent of a tape loop, with sibilant nouns, verbs, adjectives, randomly interacting in patterns that seem minimalist. Nordoff stated that he thought of this poem as "a glorification of the sound /s/." Cummings may have conceived this as a sort of wordplay, but Nordoff's setting is unusually somber and pensive (Example 6). This is a largo of stones that endure the centuries, in stark two-part counterpoint. The accompaniment is unusually restrained, medieval, severe, and monastic.


Eight Songs to Poems of e.e. cummings (N7-14) At least the last four of these songs were written during the spring of 1948, when Nordoff spent time at Threefold Farm in South Spring Valley, New York. The farm had been purchased in 1926 by the Threefold Group, who aimed to create an anthroposophic conference center, retreat, and a farm that adopted Rudolf Steiner's idea of chemical-free "biodynamic gardening." Nordoff s wife Sabina started a kindergarten there during their 1948 stay, with a focus on eurythmy, which eventually grew into the Green Meadow Waldorf School. The set is dedicated to Cummings's third wife, fashion model and photographer Marion Morehouse.

N7 "Sam" (undated)

Nordoff's performance tape, although designed for private use, allows us access in several instances to background data on the poems that Cummings might have preferred to remain private, or at least would have felt was unnecessary for the appreciation of the poem. In this song, Nordoff tells Hep, "This is the poem he wrote after the death of a farmer in New Hampshire--a farmer neighbor for many years." Sam is Sam Ward, who took care of odd jobs at Cummings's farm. More than a friend, Cummings wrote on the day that Sam died,

I turn for comfort to Cezanne; and I think that's why Sam suspected me--of cowardice. For he felt I, & people like me, were not tackling anything, not facing something. A man isn't clever. A man is strong, brave, rough, enduring. What's real ain't handsome--it's homely; it's just something that's got to be done; it's a chore. You got to face that chore, or you ain't really a man. And if you ain't really a man, you ain't really alive. He stood like a father to me. (15)

Cummings's poetic eulogy, all the more poignant for being utterly bereft of sorrow or sentimentality, vividly portrays the man in three telling phrases: "slickern a weasel," "heart as big as the world ain't square," and "grinned his grin done his chores laid him down." With Cummings, a few words are worth a thousand pictures. Nordoff captures the rural small town atmosphere with a jaunty, energetic tune certainly not designed to be sung bel canto. Note the yodel-like vocal figure at "how be you" (Example 7). The knee-slappin', boot-kickin' accompaniment is actually marked "slow cake-walk." The song is in C major, with a folky Lydian F-sharp figuring prominently. The form is A-B-A-B-Coda, the B section being more restrained and reflective. The coda reminds us of the opening bars, meno mosso, for the final "sleep well."

N8 "(sitting in a tree ...)" (February 15)

The angularity of the melodic line presented at the outset by the piano is adopted throughout by the singer. A measured trill motif pervades the accompaniment, and informs the song throughout, even though the poem's "sing small thing dance little joy" appears only at the end. (16)

N9 "little tree" (February 27-28)

From this point on in this set, triplet rhythms figure prominently in the metric and rhythmic profiles of each song. Whether Nordoff intended this or not, one cannot help but notice the similarities between the cradling motifs of "little tree" and "Tumbling-hair," or the slowly unfolding triplets in "up into the silence" and "Doll's boy's asleep."

"little tree" (a chanson innocente), one of the poet's earliest, most grammatically conventional and lucid poems, is by the same token one of his least exemplary, touching though it's sentiment may be. Nordoff finds a comparably ingenuous musical language, setting the entire song to a sicilienne rhythm, although the poem (like N8) reserves "we'll dance and sing Noel" to the end.

N10 "up into the silence" (undated)

The composer describes this as "another one of Cummings's inimitable love songs." The "silence" of the first line is conveyed by an entire empty bar before the singer begins, unaccompanied. A cradling, legato chordal accompaniment wafts us through this idyllic reverie, disguising in the process a series of subtle, elusive tonal shifts. The prominence of secondary seventh chords and the absence of chromaticism is akin to Faure.

N11 "Doll's boy's asleep" (April 11)

Another of Cummings's early, fledgling poems, exploring the gulf between dreams and reality. Doll's boy is waking (in his dreams) to the sensual complexities of adolescence. It is difficult to know what attracted the composer to this poem. The musical setting is curiously neutral and abstract, although a slight blues quality can be discerned.

N12 "until and i heard" (April 23)

Nordoff says "this is about a bird he must have heard singing in New Hampshire." Cummings took more than an average interest in birds, and they appear conspicuously in his poems. The piano introduction, with its weak-strong-weak triplet patterns, mirrors the trisyllables of the predominantly anapestic meter of the poem. The vocal line, in medium range, is capricious in its irregularity, conforming neither to the poetic meter nor to the idea of birdcall. It is more like the tentative, rambling, inadequate human attempts (the "i" of the poem) to emulate the unfettered lyric freedom of bird-song: "i dreamed i could sing but like nothing are the joys of his voice." The poem is stanzaic, rigidly structured and regular--features that are disguised by the nonrepetitive musical material. Rhythmic motifs in both voice and piano vacillate between the anapests and the amphibrachs of the poem, but in no regular manner. The "until"s that initiate each stanza and frame this poem function as the "I wish"es of the "anyone" who listens in awe to the birds.

N13 "Tumbling-hair" (April 29)

Critical interpretations of this miniature poetic masterpiece have compared or equated the "tumbling-hair" and "another" of the poem variously to the abduction of Persephone by Hades, to the loss of innocence, or to a former lover superseded by another. The "another" has been presumed to be Death, or Time, or Cummings himself, or tumbling-hair herself later in life. (17) Nordoff matter-of-factly informs us on his recording that "This is one of his painter poems--you know he was a painter too--and it's about his first wife and his daughter. The daughter he calls 'tumbling-hair' and the mother is 'another'." We can be grateful for Nordoff's insight this time because, viewed autobiographically, the poem assumes a very different dimension, apparently unrecognized in the body of literary criticism on Cummings. "Tumbling-hair" Nancy Thayer was Cummings's illegitimate daughter, born when her mother Elaine was still married to Scofield Thayer. Many love poems by Cummings at that time were inspired by Elaine, and she and Cummings eventually married. For a short time, biological mother, father, and daughter were a family unit, Cummings doting on the daughter he knew to be his own, and nicknaming her "Mopsy." After a couple of years, Elaine fell in love with another, and demanded a divorce, leaving Cummings in disbelief.

This vignette is one of Nordoff's most convincing songs. The oscillation of two chords and the repetition of two rhythmically incisive yet gentle motifs throughout ensure the unity of portraiture (Example 8). The girl's carefree youth comes through in the intimate energy of the 32nd notes and the rhythm, just fast enough to be skippy, and yet slow enough also to be the cradling of parental love. This is no battle between gods. Rather, it seems to be more a poignant biographic sketch of Cummings himself, after the loss of his domestic bliss. When the poem speaks of Elaine ("another comes also picking flowers"), there is pause for tender but regretful reflection (the same musical motifs, now "very slow").

N14 "sweet spring" (May 1)

Cummings undoubtedly knew the Thomas Nashe poem, "Spring, the sweete spring," with which this poem has many affinities. (18) The most substantial song of the group in size, "sweet spring" is set by Nordoff as a "rhumba." Through much of the song, the vocal line floats sedately above the busy syncopated accompaniment (Example 9). The many present participle verbs of the text trigger different vocal passages, with melismatic "little birds" and "joyful selves." The song, with its virtuosic verve, makes a convincing animated closer to the set.


Five Songs to poems of e.e. cummings (N15-19)

These five songs can claim to belong together, if only because they were composed on successive days in July, 1950. None of the poems are early, and two had only been published on March 30 of that year. Nordoff dedicated the set to his wife Sabina, for her birthday.

N15 "except in your honor" (July 11)

A remarkable love poem, strictly organized in form--seven six-line stanzas, all 4-2-4-2-4-2. Although marked "tenderly," the song also possesses a regal stateliness that derives both from the ingratiating harmonies and the on-beat dotted rhythms that pervade the accompaniment. Nordoff must have had in mind the lines "you bring (out of dark the earth)a procession of wonders." There is an element of valor in this musical setting that is reminiscent of the war songs of Gurney. This is a love who has passed on, to judge from the final lines (Example 10).

N16 "may my heart" (July 12)

This poem is an earnest self-admonition to treasure the values of youth and simplicity: "and if men should not hear them [little birds] men are old" / "for whenever men are right they are not young." A stolid, deliberate moderateness of tempo rules the accompaniment, which is marked "fervently."

N17 "who sharpens every dull" (July 13)

A poem redolent perhaps of Schubert's "Musensohn" and Wolf's "Der Musikant," this itinerant tradesman provides a societal need much greater than mere scissors grinding--"you'd almost cut your thumb / so right he sharpens wrong." His joyful gait is rendered in a lilting 12/8 that persists throughout the song (Example 11), with one sustained recitative passage for the quatrain "and when their lives are keen / he throws the world a kiss / and slings his wheel upon / his back and off he goes."

N18 "love is a world" (July 14)

This poem, full of optimism (Cummings's hallmark "yes"), elicits from Nordoff one of his most abstract and restrained settings. The texture is linear and bare, in which motivic gesture prevails over harmony, and tonality settles into an E-flat major only at the very end. The opening piano line seems like a serial tone row, without being crafted as one, while the pervasive rhythm in the piano (and the spare texture) oddly recalls Wolf's "Das verlassene Magdlein.

N19 "if a cheerfullest elephantangelchild"

(July 15, 16, 17)

Nordoff says of this song, "You may remember that he wrote this poem about an elephant someone gave him for Christmas. Take particular notice of the 'ifs'." The accompaniment, marked "cheerfully," is full of the jaunty, lighthearted energy of youth--surely also the subject of the poem, with its frequent images from the world of fairy tale and children's literature. Cummings's naive "on a proud round cloud in a white high night" is matched with complementary simplistic word painting, as the half notes first descend, then ascend (Example 12). The beguiling music is all wonder and energy and spirit and carefree play (Example 13). And when thought and logic intrude on this pure innocent joy, the music freezes--but it is only a temporarily bother (Example 14).


More Songs to Poems of e.e. cummings (N20-24)

This group of five songs holds together even more tenuously than the other sets, with their unrelated poems. Chronologically "nobody wears a yellow" is the orphan, the other four having been composed within a brief flurry of activity in November 1953. Its grouping with the other four in his manuscript is likely arbitrary, especially since there is no identified dedicatee for the set.

N20 "nobody wears a yellow" (August 1, 1952)

One of Cummings's most well known poems elicits an appropriately sprightly, light-hearted musical setting. The unconventional, benign "Nobody," with his odd, unknowing mannerisms, fascinates the "i" of the poem. In contrast, Nordoff sets the unexpectedly poignant final lines as a leisurely, nostalgic slow blues, as the "i" of the poem discovers the dead yellow rose of the Nobody in the bottom of a trunk. There is a long, touching, untold story behind this poem, reinforced by the slightly world-weary blues of the final page (Example 15).

N21 "in spring comes" (November 7, 1953)

Another delicate, light-hearted spring song. Nordoff composes a study on two motifs, the first mimicking the rhythm of the first line (Example 16) and tossed about between piano and voice. The second, exclusive to the piano, encapsulates the youthful energy of springtime (Example 17).

The playful and irregular interplay of these two ideas throughout the song suggests, to the extent a musical setting can, the grammatical disorientation experienced by a reader of the poem. This is one of the few poems set by Nordoff that involves an irregular visual layout in its original form, with a strong vertical emphasis, very short lines that wrap to the next line in the middle of words, new stanzas in the middle of ideas, irregular syntax, and the poet's trademark use of parentheses.

N22 "hush)" (November 7, 1953)

The composer's ability to carve out a musical metaphor for poetic image is nowhere more striking and persuasive than in this setting. The "no-ones" of the poem who "are coming out in the gloaming together" could well be the couple in "nobody wears a yellow," from a forgotten earlier time ("was it perhaps a year"?). The striking piano introduction, with its busy, subdued unease, portrays the rest of us, rather than the no-ones, and is gently but firmly silenced by the singer's opening "hush)" (Example 18). And "if we are not perfectly careful," we shall miss them entirely, just as the tumultuous world inevitably bypasses the meek.

N23 "the moon is hiding in" (November 1, 1953)

This remarkable song has good claim to being considered Nordoff's most evocative and inspired. The semitone clashes of the introduction function as an ostinato through much of the song (Example 19).

A tempo marking in the heart of the song seems at first encounter improbably slow, but in fact matches perfectly the mystery and bizarre ecstasy of the text. This passage leads to perhaps the most musically overwhelming moment--difficult in execution--in all Nordoff s songs as the ostinato returns to dominate to the end (Example 20).

N24 "summer is over" (November 1953)

If these five songs are performed as a set, it seems a shame to sabotage the mood of N23 with this joyful waltz, with its homespun sentiments, fine though the song is. The ebullient finale notwithstanding, switching the final two songs arguably makes for a more effective order. A loose ternary structure holds this song together. The accompaniment demands close attention to articulation and pedaling to achieve the desired effect.


"It's been a long hard winter" ... A Set of Eleven Songs to Poems by e.e. cummings (N25-35)

Late February of 1956 was surely Nordoffs most productive and intense spell of song writing. In the space of eight days he turned out these eleven songs, many of which rank among the finest of the Cummings settings. Each bears a dedication, some of which are easily identifiable. Sabina is Nordoff's wife; Romeo is his student Romeo Cascarino; Ernst Bacon is well known as an early twentieth century American composer; Estlin is Cummings himself, and Marion his wife; Nordoff must have known Emlen Etting and his wife Gloria Braggiotti from his Philadelphia years. "All C.O.'s" (Chief Officers, or Commanding Officers--the "him" of the poem) naturally relates to the political text. The ordering of songs in the manuscript is not chronological by date written, so we may assume that the composer gave some thought to the sequence of songs for recital purposes. The first and last songs seem right as bookends for the group, and the ordering of the other songs provides effective contrasts of tempi, tonality and poetic content.

Nordoff spent some time in the winter of 1955-56 in Dornach, Switzerland, the world center of anthroposophy. The extraordinary, iconoclastic Goetheanum, designed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s, remains a notable architectural site in that city to this day, in addition to functioning as a retreat, conference center, library, and performance venue. A unique 1000-seat performance hall, with stained glass windows, carved pillars, and a painted ceiling hosts operatic, theatrical, and concert performances, as it did in Nordoffs day. Nordoffs long-standing interest in Steiner's philosophy was undoubtedly the catalyst in his decision to reside in Dornach for a time, and the rather self-indulgent title he gave to the set of eleven songs written over a short space of time there in February was probably less a reflection of Swiss climate than of his own soul searching, which would soon lead him away from composition as an independent creative act, and toward music therapy.

N25 "if I" (February 26)

"This is one of the poems I set late, but he wrote early; and it is among the group I composed in Dornach, which I called It's been a long hard winter. " Here we enter the world of the underprivileged of America, the "i" of the poem perhaps a transient, a hobo, an itinerant laborer, perhaps the Sam of N7, or a scissors grinder, or the Rockwell yokels who chat in the barber shop or outside the general store. This homegrown hero likes the sound of his own voice, but endears himself to us nevertheless. This is gentle Sunshine Sketches portraiture, not satire. The outlook on life is common sense, unpresuming and deep, and straight from Cummings's Ever-Ever Land. (19) Nordoff finds exactly the right hoedown jauntiness in the introduction and the disjunct vocal line. The blatant forthrightness of this self-appointed sage comes through in the long held high notes on the words he knows are important. On "what I say is whistle that sing that yell that spell that out big," the accompaniment becomes joyously raucous and jazzy (Example 21).

N26 "a pretty a day" (February 23--"for Gloria and Emlen")

The siciliano-like dotted rhythm that pervades this setting derives naturally from the amphibrach rhythm of the words throughout--"a pretty a day," "to flower an hour," "some limber and lithe," "but lucy could learn and lily could pray." The unaffected, idyllic New England morality that laces itself through the poem is matched by the calm, triplet flow of the music, with its largely diatonic B-flat major harmonies. Although the poetic meter is consistent throughout the text, Nordoff builds in a ternary musical structure, with a contrasting duplet rhythm passage in the middle. This graceful song inhabits a stylistic world halfway between Quilter and Copland.

N27 "will you teach a wretch to live" (February 22--"for Walter")

Like "in spring comes," this poem unfolds as a calligram in two visually identical stanzas. The sinuous shape of the stanzas to the eye have no obvious connection to the wordplay of the text. Nordoff chooses to emphasize the poem's humor, with a busy 16th-note toccata running through most of the song, except for the more sustained ending. The vocal line is sedate by comparison, giving the impression that the two performers inhabit separate regions, with the accompaniment functioning as commentator on the singer's thoughts and images.

N28 "yes is a pleasant country" (February 21--"for Romeo and Peggy")

Nordoff remarks on this poem's "wonderful use of language." The poet succinctly combines a paean to love, an address to his beloved, and a rejection of reason. It was Cummings's trademark to employ a simple word to mean something much more all-encompassing--a device that becomes less opaque with greater familiarity with his writings, poetic and otherwise. A 1956 letter illuminates the "yes" of this poem:

all a gun means is Bang:nothing more. But a man who means No (because he's full-of-hate) seeing something yes (something loving or beautiful or alive) will grin with pain, and curse the living something; and kill it, if possible, with a gun. (20)

The tender simplicity of the music belies subtleties in its construction. The three stanzas of the poem scan identically, but with irregularities in rhyme and assonance. Nordoff's three corresponding sections have similar harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic patterning, but with notable discrepancies. As the poem gains in meaning with each stanza, the duration of each musical stanza increases from seven, to nine, to sixteen bars. This creates two equal musical halves of equal length, the binary sense reinforced by the melodic similarity of stanzas one and three, but not two. The middle stanza also lacks a noticeable musical climax such as is found in both the first and third, at a widely spaced arpeggiated chord that stands out from the calm, Gymnopedie-like regularity of the accompaniment. The composer encourages a spontaneous, unpremeditated flow of words by suggesting rubati and tempo changes in no less than seventeen of the song's thirty-two bars.

N29 "Buffalo Bill" (February 26--"for Ernst Bacon")

A masterpiece of aphoristic depiction, this musical setting is one of Nordoffs most memorable. In twentythree bars, the composer encapsulates the prodigious, preternatural icon of the Wild West, with his swashbuckling fearlessness and machismo. As if to put the lie to Bill's larger than life persona, Nordoff sets the poem in a backcountry blues in comfort-key D-flat major, "with great simplicity," to be played with the left hand alone. The pianist sets the entire scene with but five fingers, just as Bill can "break one two three four five pigeons just like that." This Bill is as sure of himself as sure can be. Nordoff often chooses disarmingly slow pulses (this one is set at [crotchet]. = 40), and to judge from his own performance he intends the marking to be taken precisely. The music remains poignantly unruffled by the devastating final "how do you like your blue-eyed boy Mister Death," apart from the telling crescendo to fortissimo on the final word, accompanied by a lone flatted supertonic in the bass. Bill's popularity with women went beyond his natural good looks: the historical Cody spoke out for women's rights, equal pay, and the ability to choose any job one likes. Perhaps the admirer in this poem is recalling, at Bill's 1917 funeral, an encounter that happened decades earlier (Example 22)?

N30 "buy me an ounce and I'll sell you a pound" (February 27--"for Marion and Estlin")

Here again we encounter Cummings's hallmark dactylic tetrameter, made explicit in the first line, and visually in the layout of the poem on the page. (21) The four quatrains of the poem are rigidly constrained by the scansion 10-11-1-3-11-1-1-3. The giddy lilt and energy of the poem is caught musically by the fast, vigorous 12/8 and the raucous, circus-like accompaniment. The composer wisely avoids the strict rigidity of the poetic form in his rhythmic choices. The dactylic tetrameter occurs eight times in the poem, but no two rhythmic renditions are alike in the vocal line. Some even place weaker syllables on stronger beats, in a perhaps too zealous effort to avoid obvious symmetry (Example 23). Nordoff does find a musical parallel to the extravagantly variant lines of the poem by consistently setting the syllables in the one-and three-syllable lines to more sustained notes than those in the tetrameters.

N31 "little man" (February 21--"for Romeo")

The composer here captures the nervous little man "(in a hurry full of an important worry)" with a ragtime. It takes some persuasion ("forget relax wait") to slow him down, but eventually the jaunty two-step transforms into a reverie for the flashback ("little child") and the appeal from nature to forget his worldly woes.

N32 "plato told him" (February 20--"for all C.O.'s")

"You remember that, in order to appreciate this poem, you have to know that NYC, when it dismantled its 6th Avenue elevated train, sold it to Japan. Japan used this scrap for making munitions for the last war." The "him" of the poem, whether president, politician, statesman, professional military commander, or America itself, refuses to listen to pacifists Plato, Jesus, Lao-tse, General Sherman, you or me, and gets his come-uppance. The historical irony that forms the backdrop to this poem is transformed by Nordoff into an edgy blues setting, full of anger and righteous bitterness. Blues, the art form of the common sense unempowered, aptly portrays the attitude of the poem. Unlike other songs of his that hint at blues style, Nordoff calls this a "real blues."

Cummings rages against what he saw as the duplicity and hypocrisy of American foreign policy in a 1956 letter:

Picture "God's country"(alias earth's richest nation)--the sworn enemy of brute force, the foremost friend of democratic freedom, perpetually dedicated to an unconditional defence of all oppressed peoples &(with this sacred mission in view) armed to the hyperangelic teeth with every not imaginable implement of supersatanic destruction-urging (via night & day broadcasts) the socalled satellite nations to revolt from colossal Russia ...

when "America" cheered wildly for Finland while secretly selling hightest gasoline to Russia so Its tanks could murder Finns, I ceased to be--in the only true sense,that is spiritually--an "American." (22)

Such is the disillusionment, disgust, and dismay that permeate this uneasy, violent, yet strangely entertaining song. This singer knows how to spit in the gutter. Tempting as it is to reproduce this brilliant song in its entirety, we confine ourselves to the opening (Example 24), the climactic moment (Example 25), and the "punchline" ending (Example 26).

N33 "a wind has blown the rain away" (February 26--"for Sabina")

Another astounding song. The textual heart of the poem, "O crazy daddy of death dance cruelly for us," informs the piano introduction, which whooshes us headlong into the vortex of impending doom (Example 27).

The composer best describes the song's essence, as unfolding "in alternating moods of tempestuousness and meditativeness." The intensity of utterance throughout is exhausting, even though brief respites are triggered by the words "the trees stand," and "did you love somebody." The alternating moods of the poem engender an A/B/A'/C/A'VC/A/B' plan musically. A compositional tour de force with a formidable piano accompaniment, this is art song in the manner of Barber at his most concentrated and impassioned.

N34 "your voice" (February 20--"for Sabina")

The only song in the final group of four in this set that falls short of greatness. The poem is an early one, in which the sound of the beloved's voice on the telephone serves as the excuse to send the poet into rapturous images. The technique is like Verlaine's "Clair de lune," in which the opening line's reference to the soul is a mere jumping-off point for the kaleidoscope of images in the main body of the poem. Perhaps Nordoff thought of the 16ths at the outset as the ringing of the telephone, bizarrely analogous to the dogs in Schubert's/Muller's "Im Dorfe." Nordoff paints the various images in turn, and moves into yet another blues for "how I was crazy how I cried."

N35 "let's go to sleep" (February 19--"for Scott and Lora")

About this poem Nordoff explained, in his typically understated way, that "one has to have had a bit of life experience to understand these poems." Of all Cummings poems that he set, this one might well have cried out most urgently for a blues setting. The dialect of the poem may have black American associations, but its profound commentary on the human condition generally allows it to transcend time, place, and culture. The world-weary resignation of all underprivileged that is the focus of the poem is set to the perfect musical counterpart--a "tired, sad blues" that merely hints at the genre (Example 28). We are closer here to the world of Poulenc's "Hotel" than that of either blues or "I got plenty o' nuttin'." To judge from the commentary on the extant tape recording of the composer performing these songs, Nordoff was perhaps more moved by this poem than any other of the Cummings settings.

1974 (N36-37)

Nordoff rarely composed after 1959, except insofar as it related directly to his therapy practice. Songs that do not belong to the art song tradition exist, mostly in his creations for children from the therapy years. Nordoffs last years were difficult ones. He was deeply unhappy, and aware of a terminal illness, which probably explains his attraction to these austere poems. In reference to these late songs, Robbins states "He was not working with children at that time, but in a totally different frame of mind." (23) It is a testament to Nordoffs admiration for Cummings that he returned to these two late poems after a fifteen-year absence from composing art for art's sake.

N36 "seeker of truth" (April 9-10, 1974--"to Herbert Geuter")

Probably Cummings's shortest poem, consisting of 13 words. Nordoff sees fit to introduce the text with two short vocalises on "Ah." The composer treats this aphoristic poem in a mystical fashion, basing the material on an open-ended chromatic motif that recurs through the song. The harmonic style is more abstract now than in his previous writing, and the melodic contour is fragmented, declamatory, bereft of purely lyric moments and, apart from the opening "Ah"s, entirely syllabic. In this song, one scarcely recognizes the same composer.

N37 "your homecoming will be my homecoming" (April 12, Good Friday--"to Herbert Geuter")

Although more elaborate than its pair, the writing is similarly austere, again with an almost unremittingly syllabic setting of the text. The long hiatus from art song must have given him the opportunity to think the genre anew. There are a few stylistic echoes of "a wind has blown the rain away," but the more general impression is of a composer who has taken a long journey since last composing in this medium.


It is hoped that the sheet music for this unique and wonderful body of unknown art song will be available to the public in the near future, as well as recordings. This will put flesh onto the bony skeleton outlines of the songs provided in this article. Words cannot convey the essence of Nordoff's genius, and music examples can provide only a glimpse, but perhaps these at least can serve to whet the reader's curiosity.

Although the Cummings settings outnumber those of any other poet in Nordoff's song output, he was prolific in the genre, and set many poems of Conrad Aiken ("White Nocturne"; "Music I Heard with You"), Ford Madox Ford, Walter de la Mare ("Quiet Songs"), Edna St. Vincent Millay, Walter Prude ("Embroidery for a Faithless Friend"; "Dirge for the Nameless"), Elinor Wylie ("Fair Annette's Song"), and other contemporaries. (24) Among the unpublished material exist a cycle of eleven songs for male voice and piano entitled The Story of Sweeney (from his MacDowell Colony years, 1951-53), a set of thirty Scottish song arrangements (Burns poems), and many songs for children. (25)

A revealing testimonial to Paul Nordoff is included in Clive Robbins's book, A Journey into Creative Music Therapy. In 1953 Robbins had joined Sunfield Children's Homes, a home school for developmentally delayed and disabled children in Worcestershire. The rather controversial anthroposophic teaching of Rudolf Steiner was an important theoretical underpinning of the school. In 1957, Dr. Herbert Geuter became Director of Research and assumed responsibility for the medical care of the children. A year later Nordoff, who had a background in anthroposophy, was on sabbatical in Europe and visited Sunfield. I leave the reader with Robbins's words from that first meeting, unsurpassed in their sincerity and eloquence regarding the man who became his closest collaborator.

A recent encounter with music being used in Curative Education had made a deep impression on him [Nordoff], and he was pursuing his interest further. I had not met him before, and our first experiences of each other were on a professional level. On a tour of the school with the Director of Sunfield he sat in on my class, quietly attending as I told my children a story. I was grateful that after some minutes he whispered to the Director that they should leave as they were disturbing a mood. That evening he gave a concert of his compositions in Sunfield's auditorium. Out of interest I attended, unaware that my musical life and indeed, my entire life, were about to undergo a revolutionary change.

I sat on a small balcony; Paul Nordoff was at the grand piano just below me. He began to talk about his music. He read poems, then played his settings of them. There were poems by E.E. Cummings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Conrad Aiken, and others. From the very first song, the very first poem, I was captivated. I had never heard such poetry: humanly real, quite down to earth, and with clear imagery. The poetry had directness, and was not at all precious. As this extraordinary musician played and sang his settings I loved his freedom, the vitality of his music, and the presence it had. I seemed to understand the way he had set every poem, even every line. I identified with every harmonic progression. It was the most living and marvelous musical experience of my life. His playing was very clean, the music spoke for itself, yet it was through him that it spoke. I sat enthralled throughout the concert. He apologized for singing his songs in his composer's voice, but they were sung with presence and immediacy. I remember looking at him and thinking, "This is a sun among men. This is a man who radiates warmth and a certain strong regard for human life. He is a radiant person." And I thought, "This man is not afraid to depict love in his music. It's not sentimental, not precious, not cute, but love expressed as a powerful human attribute, and it's there in the honesty of the voice." I was surprised to find myself thinking, "This is how Schubert's contemporaries must have felt about Schubert--this is the Schubert of my time." I felt that a whole new view of music had been opened for me. (26)

Robbins lived long enough to know that plans for reviving Nordoff's music were underway--thanks in some measure to him. "If this can happen while I am still on the planet, that will be a very great fulfillment. Paul's part of American music/world music needs to be known. It feels like releasing a prisoner, unjustly hidden and denied his/her noble cultural rights." (27)

   the moon is hiding in
   her hair.
   of heaven
   full of all dreams,
   draws down,

   cover her briefness in singing
   close her with the intricate faint birds
   by daisies and twilights
   Deepen her,

   upon her
   the rain's

   pearls singly-whispering.

E.E. Cummings

   Doll's boy's asleep
   under a stile
   he sees eight and twenty
   ladies in a line

   the first lady
   says to nine ladies
   his lips drink water
   but his heart drinks wine

   the tenth lady
   says to nine ladies
   they must chain his foot
   for his wrist's too fine

   the nineteenth
   says to nine ladies
   you take his mouth
   for his eyes are mine.

   Doll's boy's asleep
   under the stile
   for every mile the feet go
   the heart goes nine



(1.) Clive Robbins, A Journey into Creative Music Therapy (Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers, 2005), 40.

(2.) I am grateful to music therapist, colleague and friend, Colin Lee, for introducing me to the many manuscripts of Nordoff songs, and for his support of both this article and a Cummings/Nordoff recording project presently underway. I am also grateful to Daria Salemka for generating the music examples.

(3.) Ruth C. Friedberg, American Art Song and American Poetry--Volume II: Voices of Maturity (Metuchen, NJ/ London: Scarecrow Press, 1984), 181-194. Friedberg provides biographic and anecdotal information on Nordoff unavailable elsewhere, but confines herself to a description of a few published songs only, evidently not having had access to any of the manuscript material.

(4.) To Hildegarde Watson, September 18, 1949, Silver Lake, NH. The only substantial attempt to set Cummings texts to music during his lifetime appears to be John Rawlings's theatrical setting of all the poems in 1 x 1, produced in 1950 in New Haven, in conjunction with the Yale Dramatic Association.

(5.) Tape recorded conversation, early 1960s.

(6.) F. W. Dupee, and George Stade, eds., Selected Letters of E.E. Cummings (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969), 170; the letter is dated January 31, 1946. In the Cummings quotes in this article, all idiosyncrasies of grammar, punctuation, spacing, and syntax have been retained.

(7.) Ibid., 186; September 22, 1948, Silver Lake, NH.

(8.) Richard S. Kennedy, Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings (New York: Liveright Publishing, 1980), 383-384.

(9.) One thinks of Goethe's dislike of Beethoven's lieder settings of his poetry.

(10.) Kennedy, 6.

(11.) Clive Robbins, email to Colin Lee (December 14, 2008).

(12.) I have followed the editorial decisions of George F. Firmage, E.E. Cummings, Complete Poems 1904-1962 (New York: Liveright, 1991).

(13.) Dr. Herbert Geuter, Director of Research at Sunfield Children's Home in Worcestershire, UK, where Nordoff s therapy collaborator, Clive Robbins was also resident. Though undated, the tape was probably made in the early 1960s. Included on the tape (in order) are N19, 22, 25, 13, 12, 5, 17, 7, 6, 10, 32, 35, 28, and 3.

(14.) Dolores Ferraro, the wife of Cascarino, relates that "Romeo loved Paul. Romeo was 16 when he met Paul and brought him the compositions he had written. Paul ran around the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music screaming, 'I've discovered a genius.' Even though he was technically his teacher at the conservatory, Paul left Romeo completely on his own. It was never the usual student-teacher relationship. The two became very close friends and colleagues, especially as Romeo got older. Whenever Romeo wrote anything, he couldn't wait to show it to Paul and vice-versa. Romeo thought Paul's Winter Symphony was a masterpiece, his opera The Sea Change was quite beautiful, and so many of his songs were gems. He felt Paul was a real genius and was disheartened that he never received his due as the great composer he was" (email from Ferraro to Bruce Duffie; http:// Ferraro, a soprano, sings "Pathways to Love" on an Orion recording with the composer at the piano.

(15.) The full quote, of which this is a condensation, can be found in Richard S. Kennedy, E.E. Cummings Revisited (New York: Twayne, 1994), 115-116.

(16.) Nordoff here presupposes a span of a tenth in order to play the accompaniment as written, as is the case with several of his other songs.

(17.) Rushworth M. Kidder, E.E. Cummings: An Introduction to the Poetry (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), 25; also Kennedy, Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings (New York: Liveright Publishing, 1980), 108.

(18.) Cummings read the Nashe poem in the second of his six 1952 Harvard "nonlectures."

(19.) New Poems (1938), #4

(20.) Dupee and Stade, 247.

(21.) The unavoidable fact that the visual element (so often crucial) in Cummings's poetry is not readily transformable into a musical setting rightly acts as a strong deterrent for composers. A few of Cummings's most experimental creations are literally unsingable purely from a phonetic point of view. Many others would in all probability lose more than they would gain through being set musically.

(22.) Dupee and Stade, 253

(23.) Clive Robbins, email to Colin Lee (August 31, 2009).

(24.) A set of twelve early songs was published by Associated Music Publishers in 1938, but most of his compositions in all genres remain in manuscript. Other vocal works include operas (Mr. Fortune; The Sea Change; The Masterpiece), choral works, and Lost Summer, for mezzo soprano and orchestra.

(25.) Anthony's Song Book, a set of ten children's songs written for his son, was published by Schirmer in 1950. During the later therapy years, Nordoff had occasion to compose many playsongs for use in therapy settings. These were often based on classic tales, and bore titles like "Pif-Paf-Poltrie," "The Story of Artaban," "The Three Bears," and "Elves and the Shoemaker." Nordoff collected much of his folksong arrangements and play-song music in manuscript collections entitled Last Testament (four volumes) and My Mother Goose. The latter is also the title of two sets of nursery rhymes (posthumously published by Presser), to be sung and played in a class setting, with simple instrumental parts included.

(26.) Robbins, 10-11. These observations are borne out in the Christmas gift tape Nordoff made for Geuter. His numinous humanity shines through in both his readings and his performances.

(27.) Clive Robbins, email to Colin Lee (November 14, 2008).


1922 tulips (manuscript; later published as tulips and chimneys)

Doll's boy s asleep            (from songs,
                                 vii)            N11 Doll's boy s
"little tree"                  (from chansons
                                 iii)            N9
"Tumbling-hair"                (from chansons
                                 v)              N13
"your little voice"            (from amoves,
                                 i)              N34 "your voice"
"Buffalo Bill 's"              (from
                                 xxi)            N29 "Buffalo Bill"
"the moon is hiding in"        (from post
                                 iii)            N23

1922 chimneys (manuscript; later published as tulips and chimneys)

a wind has blown the
  rain away (from sonnets
  -unrealities, xviii)         N33

1925 & [AND]

"who knows if the moon's"      (from N-&:
                                 seven poems,
                                 vii)            N1 "who knows"

1926 is 5

"Nobody wears a yellow"        (from FOUR,
                                 xiii)           N20 "nobody wears a

1931 W [ViVa]

if there are any heavens
  my mother will(all
  by her self)have"            (xliii)           N3 "if there are any
"is there a flower(whom"       (lviii)           N2 "is there a

1935 no thanks (manuscript)

"little man"                   (10)              N31
"love is a place"              (58)              N18 "love is a

1938 new poems

may my heart always
  be open to little"           (19)              N16 "may my heart"
"if i"                         (13)              N25 "if i"

1940 50 poems

"If you can't eat you got to"  (3)               N35 "Let's go to
"(will you teach a"            (12)              N27 "will you teach
                                                   a wretch to live"
"a pretty a day"               (23)              N26
buy me an ounce and
  I'll sell you a pound"       (27)              N30
anyone lived in
  a pretty how town"           (29)              N4 "[anyone & no one
                                                   (a story)]"
these children
  singing in stone"            (37)              N6
up into the
  silence the green"           (41)              N10 "up into the
love is more
  thicker than forget"         (42)              N5 "love"
"(sitting in a tree-)"         (47)              N8 "sitting in a

1944 1 x 1 [one times one]

"plato told"                   (xiii)            N32 "plato told him"
"rain or hail"                 (xxviii)          N7 "Sam"
"except in your"               (xxxv)            N15 "except in your
"yes is a pleasant country:"   (xxxviii)         N28 "yes is a
                                                   pleasant country"
"until and i heard"            (xlvii)           N12
"sweet spring is your"         (li)              N14

1950 XAIPE

"hush)"                        (2)               N22
"who sharpens every dull"      (26)              N17
"summer is over"               (27)              N24 "summer is over"
if a cheerfullest
  Elephantangelchild"          (33)              N19 "if a
"in"                           (62)              N21 "in spring

1963 73 poems

"seeker of truth"              (3)               N36
your homecoming will
  be my homecoming-            (40)              N37


1941-Three Songs for mezzo-soprano                  (N1-3)
1943-"anyone lived in a pretty how town"            (N4)
  "love"                                            (N5)
  "these children singing in stone"                 (N6)
1948-Eight Songs to Poems of e.e. Cummings          (N7-14)
1950-Five Songs to poems of e.e. Cummings           (N15-19)
1952-53-More Songs to Poems of e.e. Cummings        (N20-24)
1956-"It's been a long hard winter"
  A Set of Eleven Songs to Poems by e.e. Cummings   (N25-35)
1974-"seeker of truth"                              (N36)
  "your homecoming will be my homecoming--"         (N37)
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Author:De'Ath, Leslie
Publication:Journal of Singing
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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