Time and the Garden
for soprano and piano

written 2011
performers Argenta Walther and Ryan Harper
score Time and the Garden.pdf


i. Litany

It would be difficult to assign a greater antiquity to any industrial art than that of gardening. Consider: the gardens of the Hesperides and of Alcinous; the hanging gardens, by means of which the mighty king of Babylon sought to reconcile his Median queen to the flat and naked country of her adoption; violets in profusion could be bought in the markets of Athens while the snow was thick upon the ground; and when Tarquin the Proud was planning with the 'false' Sextus the betrayal of the Sabines, he took his messenger into the garden, and, without a word, cut off the heads of the tallest poppies growing there to show that their ends could be gained only by removing the chief men of the city.

- Samuel Orchart Beeton, adapt. Ryan Harper

ii. Quair

A garden fair, and in the corneris set,
An herbere green with wandes long and small,
Railit about, and so with treeis set
Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet,
That lyfe was non, walkying there forbye
That might within scarce any wight espye.
So thick the bewis and the leves grene.

- James I

iii. The River Merchant's Wife: A Lterr

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse;
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden --
They hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fo-Sa.

-Li Po, adapt. Ezra Pound

iv. Spring

O my grey hairs!
You are truly white as plum blossoms.

-William Carlos Williams

v. Burnt Norton

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.

- T.S. Elliot