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From Edna, With Love

2023 • Voice & Piano • 11'

A cycle with poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay depicting five faces of love: fickle infatuation; youthful affection; disillusioned domesticity; regret for lost love; and mature companionship. 

Image by Tim Mossholder

Awards & Performance

Emily Howes Heilman & Allan Armstrong. 2023 Music By Women Festival. Columbus, Mississippi. March 2023.



Program Note

“From Edna, With Love" sets five poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). The five vignettes portray different experiences of love—fickle infatuation; youthful, exuberant affection; disillusioned domesticity; regret and loneliness for lost love; and mature, reassuring companionship. 

The fervor, impish wish, and immediacy of St. Vincent Millay’s poetry is beautifully matched in the music by sweeping melodies, ardent harmonic language, jaunty rhythms, and playful text setting. The experience of each movement is unique, and all are woven together by the deep desire to connect and be understood.


I. Thursday

And if I loved you Wednesday,
   Well, what is that to you?
I do not love you Thursday—
   So much is true.

And why you come complaining
   Is more than I can see.
I loved you Wednesday,—yes—but what
   Is that to me?

II. Recuerdo


We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.


III. Grown-up


Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?

IV. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed


What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.


Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.



V. The Dream


Love, if I weep it will not matter,
   And if you laugh I shall not care;
Foolish am I to think about it,
   But it is good to feel you there.

Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking, —
   White and awful the moonlight reached
Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere,
   There was a shutter loose, —it screeched!

Swung in the wind, — and no wind blowing! —
   I was afraid, and turned to you,
Put out my hand to you for comfort, —
   And you were gone!  Cold, cold as dew,

Under my hand the moonlight lay!
   Love, if you laugh I shall not care,
But if I weep it will not matter, —
   Ah, it is good to feel you there!

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