For SATB Choir and Piano
Text by Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Published by 193rd Street Music (ASCAP)
Audio and Score coming soon
Over back where they speak of life as staying
('You couldn't call it living, for it ain't'),
There was an old, old house renewed with paint,
And in it a piano loudly playing.
Out in the plowed ground in the cold a digger,
Among unearthed potatoes standing still,
Was counting winter dinners, one a hill,
With half an ear to the piano's vigor.
All that piano and new paint back there,
Was it some money suddenly come into?
Or some extravagance young love had been to?
Or old love on an impulse not to care--
Not to sink under being man and wife,
But get some color and music out of life?
~ Robert Frost
From the composer:
"This poem is absolutely one of my favorites of Robert Frost's (or any poet, really), but unfortunately not as well-known as some of his others. I hope that this piece can play a part in changing that fact because these words deserve a wider audience.
"On one end, you have the imagery of life without music - 'staying,' 'cold,' 'ground,' a 'digger' (alluding to a grave digger?), 'standing still,' 'sink.' - all words that evoke death. Even the line 'Not to sink under being man and wife' is not a criticism of marriage but, I think, a reference to the tradition of a husband and wife being buried side-by-side.
"Then, on the other end, you have a life with music - 'renewed,' 'paint,' 'color,' 'vigor,' 'playing,' 'extravagance,' 'impulse.' Not to mention the use of the word 'house,' which is often a symbol of one's state of consciousness. An 'old, old house renewed with paint' could very well be the rebirth of one's self when stepping into the mental and emotional state that music evokes.
"Finally is the consideration of the title. An 'investment' can be defined as 'an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.' The poem asks, 'How are you devoting your time? To being dead or being alive?'
"With all of this content, plus the imagery of music and a piano, I could not resit turning it into a song."