Though best known for her wonderful non-fiction books such as Dakota and The Cloister Walk, author Kathleen Norris is also a poet. I came upon the poem “Who Do You Say That I Am?” in her collection Journey: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999, and recently completed a setting of it for soprano and piano. I’ve posted the first page of the song on the score excerpts page.
The poem is a catalog of responses to a question Jesus posed to his disciples. But the answers here are different from those in the bible story, instead offering images drawn in part from nature, but not in a naturalistic way (“nova of blossom, star in the apple”). The poem moves toward the ecstatic, ending:
the end of the spectrum,
beginning of light.
Like several other of my other individual songs that are not published by Theodore Presser, I’ll be selling PDFs of the song myself. Take a look at the opening of the piece and if you are intrigued, send me an e-mail to order the score: <jamesprimosch at gmail dot com>. Shadow Memory (audio here), Waltzing the Spheres, and my arrangements of How Can I Keep From Singing? and Be Thou My Vision are also available directly from me. Find sample pages from all of these on the score excerpts page as well.