Second song in the suite Heart Songs of the White Wampum, a setting for four poems from the anthology Flint and Feather written by the Canadian poet E. Pauline Johnson. She was raised in Southern Ontario, the daughter of an English immigrant and a Mohawk Chief. Her Mohawk name was Tekahionwake. Two of the poems are taken from a previously published collection entitled The White Wampum. This title refers to a type of shell widely used as currency in North America around the time of western contact. The white wampum was a highly valuable denomination within this monetary system. These poems express Johnson’s love of nature, both in their joy and playfulness and in the sincere way they express feelings of compassion and tenderness. Pauline Johnson died in 1913 and is buried in Stanley Park, Vancouver.
Commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir, Morna Edmundson, Artistic Director, Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont, Dr. Dawn Willis, Artistic Director, and the University of Toronto Women’s Chamber Choir,
Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, Conductor.
Commissioned with the generous financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Diane Loomer Commissioning Fund for Elektra Women’s Choir.
II. The Lifting of the Mist
All the long day the vapours played At blindfold in the city streets,
Their elfin fingers caught and stayed The sunbeams, as they wound their sheets
Into a filmy barricade ’Twixt earth and where the sunlight beats.
A vagrant band of mischiefs these, With wings of grey and cobweb gown;
They live along the edge of seas, And creeping out on foot of down, They chase and frolic, frisk and tease
At blind-man’s buff with all the town.
And when at eventide the sun Breaks with a glory through their grey,
The vapour-fairies, one by one, Outspread their wings and float away.