(Stephen Vincent Benét)

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: baritone & piano

Duration: 3 minutes

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Program Notes

By happenstance, I found a web page posted by poet Mary McCray, entitled “poems about dictators” which included this fragment from a longer poem by Stephen Vincent Benét. His words, written in 1936, presumably in response to the rise of Nazism in Germany, rings true today, as populism spreads throughout the world, most evidently with Trumpism in the United States. The poem struck me as I was among those who thought that the “train” of liberal democracy would run to the end of time, even if in slow, uneven steps. But, alas, proved wrong by the election of Trump. Those of us who believe in the principles that drove the rise of democracies over the past few centuries cannot afford to sleep. It can all turn around in a flash.

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