Philip Silvey - composer
I Shall Keep Singing - SSA - Philip Silvey

I shall keep singing!
Birds will pass me
On their way to Yellower Climes –
Each – with a Robin's expectation –
I – with my Redbreast –
And my Rhymes --

Late – when I take my place in summer –
But – I shall bring a fuller tune –
Vespers – are sweeter than Matins – Signor –
Morning – only the seed of Noon –

– Emily Dickinson

Iconic American poet Emily Dickinson opens this poem with a line that cries out to be sung. But here she intends singing (specifically, bird song) as a metaphor for her voice as a writer. Other birds (published authors of her time) may pass her, but when she arrives later (in summer) she will have a fuller tune, or deeper, more enduring work. She observes that Vespers, the Roman Catholic evening service, is sweeter than the morning prayers of Matins, which are only a seed of what will fully emerge by midday. In this ode of self-affirmation, Dickinson goes so far as to address her publisher directly as Signor. It is as if she is saying, “You may reject my work, but I will keep writing and your views cannot stop me. I am here to stay and my later work will be even stronger.” Dickinson’s poem serves as an apt manifesto for anyone who must persevere in spite of challenging odds and the skepticism of others. This simple, transparent setting honors the character of Dickinson’s writing, yet captures the spirit of determined fortitude that underlies this poem.

Duration: 1:55

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Copyright © 2018 Philip E. Silvey