The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Sleep Song

A parent contemplates the serenity of a sleeping child

Words by Ann Silsbee

While watching a beloved child slumber, a parent contemplates what sleep brings: a release from the day’s drama, deep breath, and authentic being.

Vocal Ranges: Low: b-e” / Medium: c’-f” / High: d’-g”

Details and Ordering Information

Tell me more

Composer Notes

Composer Notes

In Ann Silsbee’s slim volume of poetry, Naming the Disappeared, she explores a small, disciplined form consisting of nine 9-syllable lines. What captured my musical ear in “Sleep Song” was the rhythm of her son’s sleeping breath. What captured my spirit was nearly the same thing: the beauty and vulnerability of breath, that most basic sign of life.

Text

Sleep Song

What I love is to slip late at night
into David’s room gaze secretly
down at the soft mask of sleep twitching
with no flush of rage no pout no glee
just the passing in and out of breath
delicately stirring his body
into a hint of motion by which
I know David is living within
safe to love with my whole watching self

Ann L. Silsbee
© 2002 by Ann L. Silsbee. From Naming the Disappeared (Vista Periodista, Ithaca, NY). Reprinted by permission of Robert Silsbee

Performers

Performers

Premiere: Carol Harris and Elizabeth Alexander (St. Paul, MN)
Briana Moynihan and Benton Schmidt (Minneapolis, MN)
Harriet McCleary and Pam Sohriakoff (Minneapolis and Bloomington, MN)
Kelly Blackmarr Carlile (Savannah, GA)
Kristen Parkand Bill Cowdery (Ithaca, NY)
Mark Lawrence and Bill Cowdery (Ithaca, NY)
Penney Kimbell and Sarah Meneely‑Kyder. Memorial Concert for Ann Silsbee (Ithaca and New York City, NY)