it may not always be so; and i say
E. E. Cummings
for high voice and piano
It may not always be so; and I say
That if your lips, which I have loved,
Another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
as mine in time not far away;
If on another's face your sweet hair lay
In such a silence as I know, or such
Great writhing words as, uttering
Stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;
should be, I say if this should be --
You of my heart, send me a little
That I may go to him, and take his hands,
Saying, Accept all
happiness from me.
Then I shall turn my face, and hear one bird
terribly afar in the lost lands.
in Eight Harvard Poets, New York, Laurence J. Gomme, 1917
[ 3 pages, circa 1' 45" ]
Edward Estlin Cummings
The poem is more normally found with its original title, "it may not always
be so; and i say," as number I in SONNETS --REALITIES, Tulips and
Chimneys, 1923, but in fact as with much of Cummings' early work it was
previously published in 1917.
This simple setting in a consistent 7/8 meter limps along with some
awkwardness, in the same way as the sentiment expressed in the text is
itself a little awkward and ill at ease with expressing some noble sentiment
in the face of lost love, and then turning away to hear "one bird sing
terribly afar in the lost lands." Aplomb in the face of loss is only on part
of the greater picture, and in that greater picture the hidden grief
remains, even if obscured by such societal grace.
The final gestures are intended to be performed a piacere, for as
with the sweet limp of the 7/8 meter, the last sweep up to the G at
"terribly" should be directed as much by dramaturgical as by mere vocal
The score for it may not always be so; and i say is available as a
free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of
the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on
the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
it may not always be so; and i say,