A Letter

(1988)

"A Letter" is the first song in Lee Hoiby's song cycle Four Dickinson Songs of 1988.

Hoiby changed Dickinson's "dash" punctuation to more traditional punctuation in the score of "A Letter." The song is "for [pianist] Dalton Baldwin."

From a Letter of Emily Dickinson to Thomas Wentworth Higgins


April 25, 1862


You ask of my companions.
Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog large as myself, that my father bought me. They are better than beings because they know, but do not tell; and the noise in the pool at noon excels my piano. I have a brother and a sister; my mother does not care for thought, and father, too busy with his briefs to notice what we do. He buys me many books, but begs me not to read them, because he fears they joggle the mind. They are religious, except me, and address an eclipse ev'ry morning, whom they call their "Father." But I fear my story fatigues you.


I would like to learn.
Could you tell me how to grow, or is it unconveyed, like melody or witchcraft?


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