The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Spring Grass

The first dance of spring: tweedle-dum and fiddle-dee-dee!

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Carl Sandburg

Celebrate spring and the return of life! Opening with an earnest longing for the first grass of spring, this dance grows ever more playful, eventually breaking into an exuberant frolic of la-la’s, doodah’s and fiddle-dee-dee’s.

Spring Grass is the final movement of the three-movement work, Spring Revels.

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

In 1982, I wrote a sprightly, mischievous solo song on this delicious Carl Sandburg poem. Twelve years, two babies, and six Wisconsin winters later, I saw another musical possibility for this poem! More longing…..and ultimately, more play!

Alternate Composer Note: Whenever my piano student Erica mastered a new song she would dance gleefully into my studio singing her favorite sound bite. So when I wrote Spring Grass I threw in some “doodahs” and “fiddle-dee-dees” just for her, skipping along just like her young feet. Unlike my sprightly earlier setting of this same poem for solo voice, this choral setting contains an earnest plea for the long-awaited grass.


Spring Grass

Spring grass, there is a dance to be danced for you.
Come up, spring grass, if only for young feet.
Come up, spring grass, young feet ask you.

Smell of the young spring grass,
You’re a mascot riding on the wind horses.
You came to my nose and spiffed me.
This is your lucky year.

Young spring grass just after the winter,
Shoots of the big green whisper of the year,
Come up, if only for young feet.
Come up, young feet ask you.

Carl Sandburg
© 1928, 1956, by Carl Sandburg. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, Inc.



Spring Revels (complete work)
Premiere: Cayuga Vocal Ensemble / G. Roberts Kolb (Ithaca, NY)
Broadmoor Chamber Singers / Rebecca Kenneally (Natick, MA)
Brookline Chorus / William Cutter (Brookline, MA)
Cayuga Vocal Ensemble / Carl Johengen. 5th Annual Poetry and Song Concert (Ithaca, NY)
Chamber Singers of Iowa City / Martin Dicke (Iowa City, IA)
CoroAllegro / Jack Warren Burnam (Wilmington, DE)
Hamilton College Choir / Rob Kolb (Rochester and Buffalo, NY; Cincinnati and Cleveland Heights, OH; Evanston and Kenilworth, IL)
Harmonium Choral Society / Ann Matlack
Harmonium Choral Society / Ann Matlack (Madison, NJ; Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo Village, NJ)
Lively Experiment of University of Rhode Island / Mark Conley (Kingston, RI)
South Bend Chamber Singers / Nancy Menk (South Bend, IN)

III. Spring Grass
Premiere: Festival Choir of Madison / Eric Townell (Madison, WI)
CoroAllegro / Jeffrey Dokken (Wilmington, DE)