Nature, the Gentlest Mother


"Nature, the Gentlest Mother," the opening song of Copland's Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, was orchestrated by Copland in 1958.

Nature, the Gentlest Mother

"Nature, the gentlest mother" begins with a lengthy introduction, setting a pastoral scene. The listener can almost hear birds chirping in the fast, high figures in the right hand of the piano. The piano and voice are both gentle and lyrical throughout the first stanza of the poem, mirroring the text. The music speeds up in the second stanza, portraying running squirrels and hotheaded birds. The song returns to a tender mood for the final stanza, employing a noble and maternal air and a soaring, lullaby-like melody at the end of the song.

--Christie Finn

Nature, the gentlest mother
by Emily Dickinson

Nature, the gentlest mother
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest, -
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon, -
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky,

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

Audio PLaylist