F is for Frost…Robert Frost that is. I love his collection of poems that were later set to music by Randall Thompson called Frostiana. The poems are “The Road Not Taken“, “The Pasture“, “Come In“, “A Girl’s Garden“, “Choose Something Like a Star“, “The Telephone“, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening“. Each title is a link to a YouTube video.
Thompson was commissioned by the town of Amherst, Mass. to write a piece commemorating its bicentennial in 1959. The town was known for its association with Robert Frost, who had lived there for some years. Frost had known Thompson for some time, and admired his music; accordingly, it was decided that the commemorative work would be a setting of some of Frost’s poetry. The town suggested “The Gift Outright”; Thompson, however, feared that the text was inappropriate for the occasion, and asked to be allowed to choose his own texts. In the end, the composer selected seven poems, with which he constructed a seven-movement suite of choral art songs.
I had the opportunity when I was in a college chamber choral group to sing these songs. Very beautiful. I’d like to share my top two favorites with you today. I love poetry and just remembering these songs gives me goosebumps. Great memories with wonderful friends!
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.