Between the Limbs, Music


I. The Book of Hungers
II. Hummingbird
III. Autumn Dusk
IV. Between the Limbs, Music

Soprano solo and piano

Between the Limbs, Music is a set of four songs that deal with themes of love, life and death. The Book of Hungers establishes the idea that we are all connected by our mortality and desire for love. Hummingbird moves into the wonderful realm of young love - pure, fantastic passion. Autumn Dusk is about mature love - a love that has endured. Between the Limbs, Music reflects on the paradox of life - there cannot be joy without sorrow, passion without solitude or life and love without death to drive us forward, make us yearn. It ends with a soaring "ah" - an expression of joy and passion.


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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
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Commissioned By: 
Two Sides Sounding: Eleanor Taylor, soprano and Jocelyn Dueck, piano
Premiere Ensemble: 
Two Sides Sounding: Eleanor Taylor, soprano and Jocelyn Dueck, piano
Text Author or Source: 
Joan Wolf Prefontaine

I. The Book of Hungers

The book of hungers
was conceived in an ancient language.
Past dayfall its pages turn,
moving between darkness and shadow.
We carry it with us,
its landscape bound with impenetrable thread.
The wind in the frost-withered leaves
recalls the persistent whisperings of lovers
skating afternoons
along the river's edge,
wanting nothing but the pressure
of mouth on mouth,
the coolness of their faces
smooth as the flesh-caps of mushrooms.
The book lies open in our hands.
We carry it with us,
surrendering one by one
to the damp soil's need.
How naked the spirit is
without the simple truth of the body.
"They spring up in bunches after rain,
frequently circling the dead."
We pass the book like an invitation among us.
It shall not be rewritten.

II. Hummingbird

The hummingbird flies
like uneven breath.
His throat is the rare hue
of the cardinal flower.
See how the asparagus rises
before distributing
its seed, and the scarred
moon barely visible
in the water, wreathed
by reflections of trees.
Let's swim into the cold
where the black loons dive,
two by two, and later,
in the high grass, where
there can be no abstinence,
speak to me the way
a leaf does ascending
in a gust. Say again
how the hummingbird returns
to the same wild grove,
the same magnetic blossoms.

III. Autumn Dusk

Night enters the lake
with its black tongue
as slender reeds
rouse the wind.
In outlying fields,
the harvested earth
folds itself in darkness
and the gold lights
of farmhouses
turn on, one by one,
like thoughts
before sleep.
Lie down beside me
in the shore's
deep shade
where high leaves
swirl and surrender
to the grass.
We will blend
more quietly
with autumn's weight.
When we wake
to frost under
these chestnut branches
geese will be passing
in strict formation
overhead, flying
in pairs away from
this common dream.

IV. Between the Limbs, Music

The heart's song resumes again after sleep.
We drift on the promise of death, death's waves,
the two of us rocking, while the small town
drowses around us - low train-whistles
and beyond the neighborhoods, the prairie
restoring itself after recent fires.
The fish dream of dawn under their island
which is water, and the lake glows with algae
under the unadorned stars. Night-Hunter,
I give you whatever I assume
for joy is more inclusive than sorrow
and passion encompasses solitude -
so we float, the land ever close to us,
drowning and breathing, hopeless and ecstatic.