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Words, Wide Night
for soprano & ensemble
Carol Ann Duffy’s Words, Wide Night (1999) is a love poem that declares its inefficacy. The restless speaker, suspended in her sleepless void, cannot express her isolation properly in words.
Duffy is conscious that, when employed to describe a yearning this powerful, language fails. Even proper tenses become irrelevant:
"in one of the tenses I singing an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear"
The piece attempts to capture the world of the poem by establishing a static, nocturnal landscape on the edge of disappearing into the darkness. The soprano quietly negotiates Duffy’s sinuous text, while the dark room turns slowly beneath her.
[ Sop., Fl., Cl., Pno., Vln., Vc. ]
Soprano, Flute, Clarinet in Bb, Piano, Violin, Cello
"Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.
This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.
La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills
I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you
and this is what it is like or what it is like in words."
© Carol Ann Duffy, from The Other Country (Picador)