About the piece
I would live in your love is taken from Sara Teasdale's second collection of poetry, Helen of Troy and Other Poems, published in 1911. Teasdale’s style bridged the gap between the poetry of the Victorian age and 20th-century free verse. Throughout her career, she chose to write in metered verse and use regular rhyme scheme long after it had become passé. This poem, however, is an example of her exploration of poetic development in the 20th century. While it uses the elements of rhyme and meter, the rhythm of the text is uneven and flowing and the lines do not fit neatly into couplets. Teasdale paints images of profound beauty that reveal a woman who wished to balk Victorian tradition and marry for true love. Teasdale’s own marriage to businessman Ernst Filsinger in 1914 was mostly an effort to please her parents. She divorced in 1929 and committed suicide four years later.
I chose to set the text using rich harmonic language and a thick texture to reflect the poet’s desire to be completely consumed by love. The first stanza of the poem draws a metaphor between sea-grass surrounded by ocean waves and the poet surrounded by love. Throughout the piece, the pervasive melodic content is a minor third (G – B-flat) filled in by the middle note (A). This motive symbolizes the ocean surrounding the grass and, ultimately, the feeling of being consumed by love. I incorporated my love for the music of Robert Schumann at the climax of the piece by referencing the first movement of his Op. 17, for piano which he wrote for Clara Wieck. Here, he uses a recurring theme that signifies, “Clara;" a descending 5-note scale. At the climax, on the words, “your soul”, I use this motive that cascades through the voices. The piece should be performed with sensitivity and flexibility, allowing punctuation to guide phrasing and breathing.
Available for purchase at J.W. Pepper.