In the last week of enjoying my patio I’ve remembered a piece of music I haven’t thought about since high school: Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer, 1915.” It’s a song setting of part of James Agee‘s writing about a summer evening from his childhood.
I love Samuel Barber and this version by Kathleen Battle, but I think I love the words in Agee’s full story even more:
Content, silver, like peeps of light, each cricket makes his comment over and over in the drowned grass….The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near.
All my people are larger bodies than mine, quiet, with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of night.