Now To Sleep

Published by Roger Dean Publishing Company     
Catalog # 15/2589R, published March 2009
Part of the Janet Galvan Treble Choral Series

 
 
SA/piano
Secular text in English by Jim Schley
Difficulty rating (1-5): 2
Duration: 3 minutes
 

I happened across this poem in Garrison Keillor's poetry collection Good Poems, a treasure trove of great poems, many of them just begging to be set to music (I have already done at least 3-4 poems from this collection).

When I contacted author Jim Schley for permission to set this text I found out what a cool guy he is, living a happy life in rural Vermont and not only writing but also doing great work helping other authors with editing, AND he works in theater, walks on stilts, and so on. Hey, I've never worked with a stilt guy before, how fun!

Jim was very accommodating- he let me drop a couple words from the poem that just weren't working in the setting and allowed a title change. I look forward to setting more of his texts in the future.

The text has some fun things slightly hidden away-- he sets up the poem as a succession of people and their occupations all eventually going to sleep, but in the midst of the word associations he throws in a sly red herring... Steeplejacks, lumberjacks, jack-hammerers, and apple-jacks, wherein there is no such profession as applejack! Applejack is a cider further developed into apple brandy. You can almost imagine some Dad or Mom making up this lullaby for their child and throwing in the fun word association to amuse themeselves, and the child certainly never noticing the humor of it-- bravo, Jim!

Finally while I am in this chatty mood, I think my lullaby settings get better the more I do. I wrote one for the Ft. Wayne Children's Choir which was actually too sing-song sleepy. It wound up almost putting me to sleep, not quite the effect you want in the concert hall! So I went back and tweaked some things and the piece, Seal Lullaby, is much improved and is published by Roger Dean.


 


TEXT
(original title Cradle Song)

Reapers and sowers, gleaners and drovers:
All go to sleep.
Plowers and fleecers: twelve o'clock mowers:
Go to sleep, to sleep.

As far, as far as we know.
As far as we know.
 
Elephant trainers: wallpaper hangers: corncob pipe-smoking porters:
Will all at the wave of a hat go to sleep.
Maplesap boilers: climbing rope coilers:
To sleep, before long or gradually, to sleep.
Congressional pages: pundits and sages: acolytes and choir girls:
To sleep now to sleep.
As far as we know.
As far as we know, we'll know.
 
Shopkeepers, goalkeepers, timekeepers, lighthouse-keepers:
At long last, to sleep.
Steeplejacks, lumberjacks, jack-hammerers, and apple-jacks:
To sleep, now to sleep.
As far as we know when we know;
as far as we know.
Deep as the chimney shaft
That passes your bed,
And wide as the rough black roof overhead:
Now to sleep, tiny child, now to sleep.
As far as we know.
As far as we know.

 

  

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