The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

A Love Like That (individual song)

A tender ballad of unconditional love

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Hafiz / Daniel Ladinsky

Daniel Ladinsky’s elegant modern renderings of the works of Hafiz have introduced countless readers to this ancient Sufi poet’s powerful philosophy of gratitude, openness and joy. This generosity of spirit is captured in this warm and expansive setting for solo voice.

The individual song A Love Like That is included in the concert-length work Nature Creature and the collection A Love Like That: Songs of Unconditional Love.

Vocal Ranges: low: f#-b” / medium: a-d” / high: d’-g”

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

The scholarly side of me always scrutinizes the texts I set to music to ensure they are authentic, accurate and properly attributed. But I have another side – the artist side – which like a bright-eyed magpie leans toward shiny things: beauty, delight, patterns, color, sounds, and ideas which open the heart.

Thus it was with some trepidation that I approached the work of poet Daniel Ladinsky. Neither a purist nor an academic, Ladinsky’s engaging Hafiz-inspired renderings have led to passionate debate among poetry lovers, Sufi scholars, and Farsi speakers alike. To what extent are Ladinsky’s poems translations as opposed to original poems? And how much does that matter?

In the end, my inner debate was decided by a burst of spontaneous gratitude. I enthusiastically and unapologetically set “The Sun Never Says” to music in honor of my extraordinary parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.


The Sun Never Says

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with a love like that:
It lights the Whole Sky.

Translation and rendering by Daniel Ladinsky
© 1999 by Daniel Ladinsky, from the Penguin Publication The Gift: Poems by Hafiz. Used by permission of Daniel Ladinsky.



Premiere: Ruth MacKenzie and Elizabeth Alexander (Rochester, MN)
Amy Darrow and Julie Sherlock (Ludington, MI)
Deborah Berioli (Venice, FL)
Jane Baumer. First Unitarian Church of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Kris-Anne Weiss and Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)
Laura Fott and Susan Snyder (Nashville, TN)
Marti Mendenhall and Elizabeth Alexander. UUMN National Conference (Madison, WI)
Ruth MacKenzie and Elizabeth Alexander (St. Paul, Minneapolis and Mahtomedi, MN)
Ruth MacKenzie and Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)
Ruth MacKenzie, Jacqueline Ultan and Elizabeth Alexander. Open Eye Figure Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
Sarah Ponder Brock (Chicago, IL)
Women’s Ensemble, Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah / Kelly Blackmarr Carlile (Savannah, GA)