We premièred Julian Philips’ Verses in Solitude at the Bromsgrove Concerts’ Mixing Music series in 2000. It’s an extended piece for soprano, baritone and piano – hence why the voice is over on the left and not in the centre. Andrew Foster-Williams was the baritone. . .
It narrates the correspondence between Emily Dickinson and her literary mentor (and eventual publisher) Thomas Wentworth Higginson. In this extract, she has received her first reply from him:
A new and wholly original poetic genius, distinct on my mind at first reading. So elusive of criticism – an unsolvable problem; where to place it? I ventured on questions, evaded with naive skill…
And here is what she writes in return:
Thank you for your surgery, not so painful as I supposed.
You asked how old I was? I made no verse – but one or two – until
this winter – Sir –
You inquire my Books – For poets – I have Keats. For prose – Mr Ruskin.
You ask on my Companions Hills – and the sundown – and a
Dog – large as myself, that my Father bought me.
He buys me many Books – but begs me not to read them
Is this – Sir – what you asked me to tell you?