Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts
Songs of Exile is a collection of five poems set to music. Though originating from a variety of historical and national contexts, each poem centers around the theme of exile, or, more specifically, around an exile's journey. The order of the movements mirrors the general arch of an exile's life (home - away - home*), yet the structure is in no way intended to represent a strict sequence of what could be identified as stages of exile. The composition begins with a departure from home, shifts to several vignettes in a foreign land, and concludes with a return.An instrumental prelude foreshadowing the terrors of exile opens the suite. The first poem, "One Last Taste," interrupts this orchestral overture with a scene of a family on the brink of war and explusion. Joy Moore composed this text in 2015, a year plagued with the Syrian refugee crisis. Here, she reflects on Osip Mandlestam's "Night Piece," a 1931 poem encapsulating Mandlestam's trepidation yet resolve in anticipation of his own inevitable exile.The next three poems are glimpses of an exile's life away from home. Antônio Gonçalves Dias, in his late-nineteenth-century poem entitled“Canção do Exílio”, or “Song of Exile,” meditates from afar on the beauties of his Brazilian homeland -- "where thesabiá [bird] sings.” This descriptive poem captures the sorrow and reminiscence of an exile's displacement, encapsulated in the closing prayer to God to not let him die in a foreign land. The next poem is "Written in Pencil in a Sealed Railway Car" by Dan Pagis. Pagis wrote this short, potent text years after his Holocaust experience as a youth. He combines imagery of the Holocaust with language from the Jewish Pentateuch. Psalm 137, another Hebrew exile poem, echoes the horrors of Pagis's words with a brokenhearted prayer to God for vengeance on those who exiled them -- in this context, the Babylonians.An eighth-century text by Li Po serves as the final poem. "Return of the Exile" concisely summarizes the effects of exile: even if one is able to make it back home, the experience of being forced away from the familiar and familial leaves its scars, whether physical or emotional. A return home, then, is never a true return.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Curtis, Christopher Cody, "Songs of Exile" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1354.