All The Heart

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All The Heart is a modern choral setting of a transformed poem by W. B. Yeats. It examines the eternal subject of heartbreak with a contemporary eye.

To enquire about performing this piece, email bmrosen@musicvstheater.com

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Program Notes

All The Heart is part of a collection of choral settings of transformed poems called The Google Variations. For this transformation, I chose W.B. Yeats’s lament  Never Give All The Heart:

Never give all the heart, for loves
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

I divided the text into coherent chunks and then transformed them using Google Translate. Most of the translations were worthless gibberish, but from the hundreds of trials I ran, some beautiful and confounding combinations of words emerged, poetic phrases that I never would have thought of myself. I then picked freely from the results (as opposed to making sure the order of the transformed text matched the original text) to create a poem that works surprisingly well in its own right.

It’s like getting.
It’s how to get started.
Soft and small enough to fit all kinds of love.
The love we deserve to have

It is not enough to limit the human mind.
Therefore, the soft lips of our efforts will be historic heart and soul.
but if you prefer to dream…

“Do you think that modern women are victims
of impossible dreams?”
He said this, knowing the cost of the heart by hand.
“When a woman does not seem to think it worth the taking
the problem is not the dream of the heart.
They believe that a kiss is missing…
Addictive, perfect for all kinds of simple pleasures.
This seems obvious.
If you are deaf and dumb enough, love can be blind
because you never give up.
This package is not a vision of happiness.
It is about men and women who seem to think
that they do not want to disappear.”

This is the heart of the heart of all things that can never be sure.
Between the flower and the soft lips, true love is hard to think of.
These girls are very happy and went like a dream, like sand kisses
They say that they are playing their hearts.

She kissed him in a dream that never fades out
She kissed him in a dream that never fades out
She kissed him in a dream that never fades out

 

It’s fun to track the transformations. “And who could play it well enough/ If deaf and dumb and blind with love” becomes “If you are deaf and dumb enough, love can be blind”. “For they, for all smooth lips can say,/Have given their hearts up to the play” becomes “They say that they are playing their hearts.”

There are even echoes of e. e. cummings. I was thrilled when I recognized “This is the heart of the heart of all things that can never be sure” (which came straight out of Google Translate) as an accidental homage to this lovely line in  i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;

Since I didn’t truly write the poem, but instead assembled it by curating programmatically generated text, I can’t say for sure what any of it means. I have very little authorial authority. I like the way the final result seems to switch voices in the middle of the poem. But I wonder about the “he” spouting his views on romance and “modern women” in the middle stanza. Who is this guy? And what’s his relationship to the stranger, yet somehow more credible voice in the surrounding stanzas? I don’t think of myself as a poet at all, but I think I sorta maybe wrote a poem here.

All The Heart was premiered at the Choral Chameleon Composers Institute in Brooklyn NY, June 2015.

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