Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield

"Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield" is the first song of Bolcom's cycle Let Evening Come, which sets the poetry of Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Jane Kenyon for soprano, viola and piano.

The audio recordings of Let Evening Come are made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. The performers are Laura Strickling, soprano, Laura Pearson, viola, and Liza Stepanova, piano, and the performance took place at SongFest 2012 at The Colburn School.

Date: 1994Composer: William BolcomText: Maya AngelouSong Collection: Let Evening Come

Print vitals & song text

Text

Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield
by Maya Angelou

Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Related Information

Videos

Sheet Music

Let Evening Come

Composer(s): William Bolcom

Song(s): 1. Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens, and Mayfield
2. 'Tis Not That Dying Hurts Us So
3. Let Evening Come

Buy via Sheet Music Plus

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.