4:45 | Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, and Piano | Score

Program Note

From Your Bright Sparkling Eyes, A Death-Bed Adieu combines the poems of two of America’s Founding Fathers: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The first soprano sings the text of one of only two surviving poems written by George Washington, “From Your Bright Sparkling Eyes, I Was Undone”. The first letter of each line of the text spells out the words Frances Alexa, referring to a woman George Washington loved. The poem is incomplete, however, since her full name is Frances Alexander. The second soprano sings the darker poem, “A Death-Bed Adieu” penned by Thomas Jefferson at the end of his life on his death bed. He addressed the poem to his daughter, Martha Randolph. The juxtaposition of these two poems, one youthfully hopeful and the other darkly resigned, creates a strange new work where love and death exist in the same time and space.

Text

“FROM YOUR BRIGHT SPARKLING EYES, I WAS UNDONE”

— GEORGE WASHINGTON

From your bright sparkling Eyes, I was undone;

Rays, you have, more transparent than the sun,

Amidst its glory in the rising Day,

None can you equal in your bright array;

Constant in your calm and unspotted Mind;

Equal to all, but will to none Prove kind,

So knowing, seldom one so Young, you’ll Find

Ah! woe’s me that I should Love and conceal,

Long have I wish’d, but never dare reveal,

Even though severely Loves Pains I feel;

Xerxes that great, was’t free from Cupids Dart,

And all the greatest Heroes, felt the smart.

 

 

“A DEATH-BED ADIEU. TH:J TO MR”

— THOMAS JEFFERSON

Life’s visions are vanished, its dreams are no more.

Dear friends of my bosom, why bathed in tears?

I go to my fathers; I welcome the shore,

which crowns all my hopes, or which buries my cares.

Then farewell my dear, my lov’d daughter, Adieu!

The last pang in life is in parting from you.

Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death;

I will bear them your love on my last parting breath.

 

 

“FROM YOUR BRIGHT SPARKLING EYES, A DEATH-BED ADIEU”

From your bright sparkling Eyes, Life’s visions are vanished.

I was undone, its dreams are no more.

Dear friends of my bosom, Why bathed in tears?

Rays, you have, more transparent than the sun.

I go to my fathers Amidst its glory in the rising Day,

None can you equal in your bright array.

 

I welcome the shore, Constant in your calm and unspotted Mind;

which crowns all my hopes, or which buries my cares.

Then farewell my dear, my lov’d daughter,

Equal to all, but will to none Prove kind,

So knowing, seldom one so Young, you’ll Find.

Adieu!

 

Ah! woe’s me that I should Love and conceal,

Long have I wish’d, but never dare reveal,

The last pang in life is in parting from you.

 

Even though severely Loves Pains I feel;

Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death.

Xerxes that great, was’t free from Cupids Dart,

And all the greatest Heroes felt the smart,

I will bear them your love on my last parting breath.

Adieu!