• (soprano/cello version): Helena, MT, 3/31/14
• (original version): Atlanta, GA, 4/28/2006
Travels is a set of short pieces based on five poems by Stephen Crane. "The Universe," "The Wayfarer," and "The Prophet" appear in War is Kind & Other Lines (1899), and "The Desert" and "The Horizon" appear in Black Riders & Other Lines (1905).
This piece was originally scored for soprano, harp, double bass, and two percussionists. The new version, presented here, was created for Diagenesis Duo.
A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly overgrown with weeds.
"Ha," he said,
"I see that none has passed here
In a long time."
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."
When the prophet, a complacent fat man,
Arrived at the mountain-top,
He cried: "Woe to my knowledge!
I intended to see good white lands
And bad black lands,
But the scene is grey."
I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never--"
"You lie," he cried,
And ran on.