Spring Thunder

Spring Thunder (A Song Cycle for Soprano and Flute based on poems by Mark Van Doren) was composed between 1979 and 1980 in Binghamton, NY. The World Premiere took place at SUNY-Binghamton on 14 February 1980 at a Meet the Composer-sponsored concert of Locklair chamber compositions. Metropolitan Opera singer, Louise Wohlafka, was the soprano soloist and Georgetta Maiolo the flautist. The piece is based on five poems by the American poet, Mark Van Doren. While movements 1, 3 and 5 are for soprano and flute, movements 2 and 4 are for soprano alone. The poems come from various periods of Mr. Van Doren’s life, yet all focus on the seasons of the year. The poems are listed below and are from Collected and New Poems 1924-1963 by Mark Van Doren (Hill and Wang, New York). The original collection from which each poem comes is noted at the end of each poem. All poems are used with the permission of the publisher, Hill and Wang.

Dan Locklair


1. Spring Thunder – ca. 50″
2. Winter Fields – ca. 1′ 20″
3. Song – ca. 1′ 15″
4. All Seasons – ca. 2′
5. Fall is a Crazy Dancer – ca. 2′

Total duration = ca. 7′ 15″

1. Spring Thunder

Listen. The wind is still,
And far away in the night-
See! The uplands fill
With a running light.

Open the doors. It is warm;
And where the sky was clear-
Look! The head of a storm
That marches here!

Come under the trembling hedge-
Fast, although you fumble.
There! Did you hear the edge
Of winter crumble?

(from Spring Thunder and Other Poems [1924]
by Mark Van Doren)

2. Winter Fields

Once they were black
And again they were green.
But the sun dropped,
And the wind grew lean,

And the crows dived
So fiercely down
That the grass blanched
In meadow and town;

And barns and fences
And rows of trees
Died to a brown
As brown as these.

Whatever can live
With the sun so low?
That wagoner there
But appears to go.

Soon you will look
And the wheels will stand:
Frozen asleep:
Locked in with the land.

(from 7 P.M. and Other Poems [1926]
by Mark Van Doren)

3. Song

Spring of the world again,
Oh, is there such a time:
Eternity of April,
Past hills, past green?

There will be grass again,
There will be buds, be lambs;
Here. But what of the outer
Spaces fate lives in?

Good of the heart again:
Can there be such a spring?
You everlasting winter,
Does it come on?

(from New Poems [1948]
by Mark Van Doren)

4. All Seasons

All months, all days, all hours,
All sister seconds even, oh, all
Beautify the world and bless
The walkers on it.

Some of whom they drown,
And some make die of thirst; they burn, they freeze,
They kill us every minute; yet
We must adore them.

Supposing them gone out:
Time’s candles. Then no joy or darkness either.
No bitter, sweet; beginning, end.
Oh, mercy on us.

(from Morning Worship and Other Poems [1960]
by Mark Van Doren)

5. Dance of Death
[Locklair cycle title :
Fall is a Crazy Dancer]

Fall is a crazy dancer-
Look, how he whirls in leaves;
How happy Death is to be stamping with him-
There, on the stricken body
Of grass, of mortal green.

Down with it all: he dances,
And look, she laughs in his arms;
Wicked, the bright wind is funeral music
For long days-remember?-
And hot dark, and flowers.

Death is a wild partner;
But look, she is not young.
She is the eldest daughter; she has danced
Forever, without wedding
Any warm one.

(from Morning Worship and Other Poems [1960]
by Mark Van Doren)