When Donald was commissioned to write a piece for the Seattle Women’s Chorus, he knew he wanted to set the poetry of Sara Teasdale to music. He’s set many Teasdale poems because he finds her sensitive, multilayered voice to be inspirational. Skirvin describes the piece as follows:
Winter Reverie is a setting of two evocative Teasdale poems that re-create a winter scene of walking on a snowy night, enjoying a good meal in a restaurant, watching twilight descend under “icebowed trees,” and returning thanks for “… the mother who bore me. (Click on the link to download a PDF containing the first few pages and the last few pages of the score.)
In the restaurant
The darkened street was muffled with the snow,
The falling flakes had made your shoulders white,
And when we found a shelter from the night
Its glamour fell upon us like a blow.
The clash of dishes and the viol and bow
Mingled beneath the fever of the light.
The heat was full of savors, and the bright
Laughter of women lured the wine to flow.
A little child ate nothing while she sat
Watching a woman at a table there
Lean to a kiss beneath a drooping hat.
The hour went by, we rose and turned to go,
The somber street received us from the glare,
And once more on your shoulders fell the snow.
I watch the great clear twilight
Veiling the icebowed trees;
Their branches tinkle faintly
With crystal melodies.
The larches bend their silver
Over the hush of snow;
One star is lighted in the west,
Two in the zenith glow.
For a moment I have forgotten
Wars and women who mourn
I think of the mother who bore me
And thank her that I was born.
Listen to a performance of the piece by the Seattle Women’s Chorus on YouTube by clicking here.