I've been looking for a decent recording of Samuel Barber's setting of James Agee's poem "Sure on this Shining Night", and God bless Itunes, I just found the most obscure and spectacular version ever. The song is sort of standard fare for many vocal recitals and boring choir concerts, so it's hard to find a recording that captures the intimacy and the vastness inherant in a poem and song which, to me, has always been about looking at the stars alone, feeling connected, then feeling even more alone in the universe. That's kind of just my take. I think it's about love too. Isn't most good poetry about love?
Anyway, the version I found is by Norwegian artist Elg (that's a guy). I really wish I could put the whole song on here somehow, but that's beyond my ability, so I've included a clip. It's a bit awkward to have a clip in the midst of the song, so you should probably just come over to my house and I'll play it for you. (That's Van Gogh up there, "Starry Night over the Rhone" 1888)
First, James Agee's poem:
Sure on this shining night
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.
The clip is where, in the song, he sings
All is healed, all is health, High Summer holds the earth. It's my favorite part, but you really need what comes before and what comes after. I just love the gut this guy sings with, and there's also a real sense of reaching: reaching out towards the night, towards the stars, towards someone who isn't there.
"I Weep For Wonder Wand'ring Far Alone"