I Shall Go Back Again

Composer Alison Willis, poet Edna St.Vincent Millay

I shall go back again to the bleak shore
And build a little shanty on the sand,
In such a way that the extremest band
Of brittle seaweed will escape my door
But by a yard or two; and nevermore
Shall I return to take you by the hand;
I shall be gone to what I understand,
And happier than I ever was before.
The love that stood a moment in your eyes,
The words that lay a moment on your tongue,
Are one with all that in a moment dies,
A little under-said and over-sung.
But I shall find the sullen rocks and skies
Unchanged from what they were when I was young.

The performance direction for this piece is “Betrayed yet resolute, as if talking to yourself.” This sonnet seems to be about a disappointed love and returning to find the comfort of childhood memories. Musically the piece follows the rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan (or Italian) Sonnet (ABBAABBA CDCDCD), constantly returning to the opening interval of a seventh as thoughts swirl around the poet’s mind like the waves reflected in the piano accompaniment.