Mid-Winter Waking is quite simply a setting of Robert Graves’ 1942 poem of the same name. My setting for mezzo-soprano and clarinet was composed in 1994 in Tallahassee, Florida for two students at The Florida State University School of Music.
Stirring suddenly from long hibernation,
I knew myself once more a poet
Guarded by timeless principalities
Against the worm of death, this hillside haunting;
And presently dared open both my eyes.
O gracious, lofty, shone against from under,
Back-of-the-mind-far clouds like towers;
And you, sudden warm airs that blow
Before the expected season of new blossom,
While sheep still gnaw at roots and lambless go —
Be witness that on waking, this mid-winter,
I found her hand in mine laid closely
Who shall watch out the Spring with me.
We stared in silence all around us
But found no winter anywhere to see.
Robert Graves from Work in Hand (1942)