Living in Light

Living in Light

By Sara Teasdale

I. Buried Love

I have come to bury Love
Beneath a tree,
In the forest tall and black
Where none can see.

I shall put no flowers at his head,
Nor stone at his feet,
For the mouth I loved so much
Was bittersweet.

I shall go no more to his grave,
For the woods are cold.
I shall gather as much of joy
As my hands can hold.

I shall stay all day in the sun
Where the wide winds blow,
But oh, I shall cry at night
When none will know.

II. I Shall Not Care

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Though you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.

III. June Night

Oh Earth, you are too dear to-night,
How can I sleep while all around
Floats rainy fragrance and the far
Deep voice of the ocean that talks to the ground?

Oh Earth, you gave me all I have,
I love you, I love you, oh what have I
That I can give you in return
Except my body after I die?

IV. A Little While

A little while when I am gone
My life will live in music after me,
As spun foam lifted and borne on
After the wave is lost in the full sea.

A while these nights and days will burn
In song with the bright frailty of foam,
Living in light before they turn
Back to the nothingness that is their home.

A few years back, Margot Rood asked me to write a set of songs for soprano and cello, with the request that they focus on simplicity. With just two melodic instruments, the challenge was to write four contrasting pieces that remained simple while giving each song its own, distinct personality. To achieve both simplicity and contrast, I gave the cello a different area of focus for each song: in the first song, melodic writing to imitate the voice; then, pizzicato to maintain a lightness of character; next, harmonics to achieve an uneasy, ethereal sound; and last, double stops to reach a sense of stability and peace. The poems, while agonizingly dark at times, also give way to a sense of hope amidst a backdrop of mortal human existence. I tried to capture the emotion behind Teasdale’s despair while ultimately favoring a sense of enduring love. The song cycle’s title comes from the last line of the fourth song, “Living in light, before they turn back to the nothingness that is their home.”


Heather Gilligan’s music has been described as honest, direct, and compassionate while exploring emotions from humor to anguish. In April 2017, her album Living in Light was released by Albany Records. A collaborative project with soprano Margot Rood , the debut album features six of Heather’s vocal chamber works, scored for soprano with varied instrumentation including string quartet, percussion, saxophone, trumpet, and piano. Other recent successes include premieres of her choral, wind band, and orchestral music at the New York Choral Festival in Carnegie Hall and the Washington D.C. International Music Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her award-winning work for solo flute, published in the 2015 SCI Journal of Music Scores, was chosen for performance by the College Music Society and by the University of Nebraska’s New Music Festival. Heather has recently written works for American Modern Ensemble, the East Winds Quintet, the Arneis String Quartet, Lorelei Ensemble, the Chamber Singers of Keene, Anthology vocal quartet, and Ensemble 451. In 2010, she was named Composer of the Year by the New Hampshire Music Educators Association. Over the past decade, she has served as a member of the Boston Composers Coalition, a group of seven composers dedicated to the creation, performance, education, and dissemination of new American music.
Heather serves as Chair of the Keene State College Music Department; oversees the areas of composition, theory, and aural skills; teaches Composition, Music Theory I-IV, Counterpoint, and Analytical Techniques; and is the co-founder and co-director of “Currants,” the department’s Contemporary Ensemble. Heather received her DMA in Composition from Boston University and her MM from the Longy School of Music. She also holds a BS in Chemistry from Lehigh University.

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