Of Mere Being

(1972)

"Of Mere Being" is the sixth poem and song in Ned Rorem's Last Poems of Wallace Stevens. The song is for solo voice, framed by a few measures of solo cello. The entire song cycle is for soprano, cello, and piano.

Of Mere Being
by Wallace Stevens


The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.


A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.


You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.


The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.


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