On Leaving Brooklyn [SATB solo voices+vln]

[audio:On_Leaving_Brooklyn.mp3|titles=On Leaving Brooklyn|artists=Five Borough Song Festival]

SATB + solo violin
Commissioned by the Five Borough Song Festival

Text by Julia Kasdorf

(From EVE’S STRIPTEASE, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992)

Used with Permission

I chose this poem because its tones of grief, exile, memory, and loss immediately resonated with me, a transplanted Dutch Israeli who grew up in Nigeria and Milwaukee. Kasdord plainly mirrors Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion….” It is a small, delicate motet – a bright,little lamentation.


On Leaving Brooklyn


After Psalm 137

If I forget thee
let me tongue forget the songs
it sang in this strange land
and my heart forget the secrets
only a stranger can learn.
Borough of churches, borough of crack,
if I forget how ailanthus trees sprout
on the rooftops, how these streets
end in water and light,
let my eyes grow nearsighted.
Let my blood forget
the map of its travels
and my other blood cease
its slow tug toward the sea
if I do not remember,
if I do not always consider thee
my Babylon, my Jerusalem.