Whispering of Fields Unsown (Grade 3.5)
from Symphony No. 8
Whispering of Fields Unsown was commissioned by a consortium of schools representing the Western and Northwestern divisions of CBDNA. It is inspired by the words of Wilfred Owen, a British infantry soldier in World War I who wrote some incredibly powerful and striking poetry from the trenches before being killed near the end of the war. In particular, the composition draws inspiration from the text of Futility, a poem which, although suggestive of the progression of Owen's darker feelings about the war, somehow manages to maintain a sense of his love for his fellow man, remaining gentle and kind and beautiful in the face of desperation.
Move him into the sun--
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it awoke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds--
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved,--still warm,--too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
--O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?