This wonderful, witty text by Walt Whitman strikes a
personal note for me. Immediately prior to composing this
choral setting, my son Paul graduated from college along with Josh
Chesnut -- his roomate and best friend from
childhood. These clever lyrics, excerpted from an epic
poem by Whitman, seem uniquely apropos for these
graduates. After "paying their dues" in
academia, it was time to move on to new vistas and exciting challenges!
The music begins "With Wit" and humor, then
abruptly transforms into brave hope and boundless
optimism! The message is exciting and the music is
cleverly designed to enhance Whitman's words. The opening
gives the impression of a "circular rut", a
merry-go-'round. The music suddenly changes to a vigorous
sense of abandon, then briefly returns to the sound of the calliope!
~ Notes by Brad Nelson
Have We Not Stood Here Like Trees In The Ground
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovel'd here long enough, eating and
drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken'd and dazed ourselves with books
Sail forth -- steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!
~Walt Whitman, 1819-1892 (from
"Passage To India", 1868)