- Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson
- voice and piano
- Alternate Titles
- Dickinson Songs (Nickname)
- Year Composed
- ARCO Number(s)
- 1. Nature, The Gentlest Mother (To David Diamond)
- Version: Nature, the Gentlest Mother in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 2. There Came a Wind Like a Bugle (To Elliott Carter)
- Version: There Came a Wind Like a Bugle in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 3. Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven? (To Ingolf Dahl)
- 4. The World Feels Dusty (To Alexei Haieff) Alternate Title: World Feels Dusty (Alternate/Synonymous)
- Version: The World Feels Dusty in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 5. Heart, We Will Forget Him! (To Marcelle de Manziarly)
- Version: Heart, We Will Forget Him! in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 6. Dear March, Come In! (To Juan Orrego-Salas)
- Version: Dear March, Come In! in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 7. Sleep Is Supposed to Be (To Irving Fine)
- Version: Sleep is Supposed to Be in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 8. When They Come Back (To Harold Shapero)
- 9. I Felt a Funeral in My Brain (To Camargo Guarnieri)
- 10. I've Heard an Organ Talk Sometimes (To Alberto Ginastera)
- 11. Going to Heaven! (To Lukas Foss)
- Version: Going to Heaven! in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 12. The Chariot (To Arthur Berger)
- Version: The Chariot in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) for voice and chamber orchestra
- 1. Nature, The Gentlest Mother (To David Diamond)
- New York, May 18th, 1950 (Alice Howland, Copland)
- Related Persons
- Emily Dickinson (text author)
- Boosey & Hawkes
- Publishing Status
- Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson (1958–70) (Subset, Arrangement)
- In Collections
- Aaron Copland Art Songs and Arias (high voice) (for high voice and piano)
- Aaron Copland Art Songs and Arias (medium/low voice) (for medium/low voice and piano)
- Aaron Copland - Song Album (for high voice and piano)
- The Copland Violin Collection: 13 Pieces for Violin & Piano (for violin and piano)
- Copland for Violin (for violin)
- Copland for Flute (for flute)
- Copland For Clarinet (for clarinet)
- Copland for Alto Saxophone (for alto saxophone)
- Copland for Bass (for double bass)
- Copland for Bassoon/Trombone/Baritone B.C. (for bassoon, trombone, or baritone B.C.)
- Copland for Cello (for cello)
- Copland for Horn (for horn)
- Copland for Oboe (for oboe)
- Copland for Trumpet, Tenor Sax, Baritone T.C. (for trumpet, tenor saxophone, or baritone T.C.)
- Copland for Tuba (for tuba)
- Copland for Viola (for viola)
Buying OptionsBoosey & Hawkes
"I had no intention of composing a song cycle," wrote Copland. His interest in the Dickinson poems began with The Chariot and he gradually added others. The cycle is Copland's longest work for solo voice. Copland explained, "Each song is meant to be complete in itself, but I prefer them to be sung as a cycle. They seem to have a cumulative effect." Each poem is dedicated to a composer friend: David Diamond, Elliott Carter, Ingolf Dahl, Alexei Haieff, Marcelle de Manziarly, Juan Orrrego-Salas, Irving Fine, Harold Shapero, Camargo Guernieri, Alberto Ginastera, Lukas Foss, and Arthur Berger.
Nature, the gentlest mother includes trills and flutterings reminiscent of bird sounds in the introduction.
There came a wind like a bugle features a melody that has been likened to a bugle call.
Why do they shut me out of Heaven? is characteristic of the cycle in the wide vocal range required of the singer. Copland wrote, "I gave a great deal of thought as to how my essentially instrumental style could be adapted for the voice."
The world feels dusty was the first song Copland finished. He wrote, "When I had twelve of them, they all seemed to run to their right places."
Heart, we will forget him is a love song that has been likened in style to Mahler.
Dear March, come in! was one of Copland's favorites, "as it breezes along." He was well satisfied with the songs. As he said, "Encouraged, I could fall in love with all of them!"
Sleep is supposed to be was admired by Phyllis Curtin who sang the cycle with Copland accompanying at the piano. "It is the pattern of Emily's remarkable speech that Aaron understood absolutely," said the singer.
When they come back was played by Copland's friend Irving Fine for the conductor Serge Koussevitzky. Fine reported, "Koussevitzky liked certain songs, this and other slow ones."
I felt a funeral in my brain is a setting of one of the many poems in which Emily Dickinson was preoccupied with death. The songs do not quote folk material and since they are more difficult than Copland's earlier vocal music, it has taken more time for them to be admired as they are today.
I've heard an organ talk sometimes was admired by Virgil Thomson for "the wide melodic skips, which are in themselves highly effective in a declamatory sense and strikingly expressive."
Going to Heaven! has proven a favorite of several singers, among them Alice Howland, who gave the premiere performance of the song cycle at Columbia University.
The Chariot is the only song that does not derive from the first line of the poem. It was this Dickinson poem that sparked Copland's intense interest in her writings. He wrote, "The first lines absolutely threw me: Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me; the carriage held but just ourselves and immortality."
- Vivian Perlis