If You Were Coming in the Fall

(1996)

"If You Were Coming in the Fall" is a song by Jake Heggie setting a poem of Emily Dickinson. The song was a winner of the G. Schirmer - 1995 Young Americans' Art Song Competition and received its premiere on July 16, 1996 at Schoenberg Hall (UCLA) by the 1996 SongFest participants.

If you were coming in the fall (poem 511)
by Emily Dickinson


If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.


If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.


If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.


If certain, when this life was out
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.


But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.


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