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Songs

Songs

Nature, the gentlest mother (1849)


Part of a series or song cycle:

Twelve poems of Emily Dickinson


Nature, the gentlest mother

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.

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Composer

Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and conductor.

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Poet

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet.

Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, into a prominent family with strong ties to its community. After studying at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she briefly attended the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst.

Evidence suggests that Dickinson lived much of her life in isolation. Considered an eccentric by locals, she developed a penchant for white clothing and was known for her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, to even leave her bedroom. Dickinson never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence.

While Dickinson was a prolific poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. The poems published then, were usually edited significantly to fit conventional poetic rules. Her poems were unique in her era. They contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.[4] Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Although Dickinson's acquaintances were likely aware of her writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Dickinson's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of her work became public. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, though both heavily edited the content. A 1998 New York Times article revealed that of the many edits made to Dickinson's work, the name "Susan" was often deliberately removed. At least 11 of Dickinson's poems were dedicated to sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson, though all the dedications were obliterated, presumably by Todd. A complete, and mostly unaltered, collection of her poetry became available for the first time when scholar Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1955. You can read some of her poetry here.

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