Four Poems for Robin






Soprano and Viola

premiered by

Kathryn Hallor, soprano; Franklin Alvarez, viola at the University of Oregon

commissioned by

Kathryn Hallor, soprano

Four Poems for Robin


Four Poems for Robin for Soprano and Viola (1999, rev. 2006) is dedicated to soprano Kathryn Hallor who premiered the work with violist Franklin Alvarez at the University of Oregon on 1 May, 1999. Hallor commissioned this setting of Gary Snyder’s poetic cycle of the same title, wherein a speaker processes the loss of their youthful lover through various filters of distance – physical, temporal, and emotional. As the cycle progresses, the language hardens to reflect the realization that the speaker cannot regain the past or lost love.

– notes by the composer, Andrea Reinkemeyer

Four Poems for Robin
Gary Snyder - 1930-

Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest

I slept under rhododendron
All night blossoms fell
Shivering on a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck n my pack
Hands deep in my pockets
Barely able to sleep.
I remembered  when we were in school
Sleeping together in a big warm bed
We were  the youngest lovers
When we broke up  we were still nineteen
Now our friends are married
You teach school back east
I don't mind living this way
Green hills the long blue beach
But sometimes sleeping in the open
I think back when I had you.


A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,
Breath smoking in the moonlight,
Bitter memory like vomit
Choked my throat.
I unrolled a sleeping bag
On mats on the porch
Under thick autumn stars.
In dream you appeared
(Three times in nine years)
Wild, cold, and accusing.
I woke shamed and angry:
The pointless wars of the heart.
Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.
The first time I have
Ever seen them close.

December at Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were--
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.