What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.

  • Edna St. Vincent Millay

In the middle of Covid, my friend Sarah Farr commissioned a setting of this poem for her trio. Recently, the amazing, young mezzo, Deanna Eberhart, was getting ready for her Masters recital. She asked me if I had written anything for mezzo. I gave her this piece, and she gave a stunning performance of it last week.

I personally think it may be my best art song. The ending after the volta in the text is an experiment that I think turned out to be extremely delicate and poignant. I basically wrote a jazz standard for the final sestet, and then I exploded the accompaniment by only letting the piano and clarinet play single pitches that are rhythmically randomized through my own secret devices. It makes my tear up every time I hear it.