Riding the Elevator into the Sky


"Riding the Elevator into the Sky" is the fourth song of David Conte's song cycle Sexton Songs. The cycle is for soprano and piano or chamber ensemble and sets the poetry of Anne Sexton.


The audio selection in the player to the right features Marnie Breckenridge, soprano, and Ensemble Parallele with Nicole Paiement, conductor. Used with the permission of the composer. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

Riding the Elevator into the Sky
by Anne Sexton

As the fireman said:
\t\tDon't book a room over the fifth floor
\t\tin any hotel in New York.
\t\tThey have ladders that will reach further
\t\tbut no one will climb them.
\t\tAs the New York Times said:
\t\tThe elevator always seeks out
\t\tthe floor of the fire
\t\tand automatically opens
\t\tand won't shut.
\t\tThese are the warnings
\t\tthat you must forget
\t\tif you're climbing out of yourself.
\t\tIf you're going to smash into the sky.

\t\tMany times I've gone past
\t\tthe fifth floor, cranking upward,
\t\tbut only once
\t\thave I gone all the way up.
\t\tSixtieth floor:
\t\tsmall plants and swans bending
\t\tinto their grave.

\t\tFloor two hundred:
\t\tmountains with the patience of a cat,
\t\tsilence wearing its sneakers,
\t\tFloor five hundred:
\t\tMessages and letters centuries old, birds to drink,
\t\ta kitchen of clouds,
\t\tFloor six thousand:
\t\tthe stars,
\t\tskeletons on fire,
\t\ttheir arms singing.
\t\tAnd a key,
\t\ta very large key, that opens something -
\t\tsome useful door - somewhere -
\t\tup there.

Audio PLaylist