As One Listens To The Rain

by Matthew Whittall

after a poem by Octavio Paz

Empty sheet

Matthew Whittall

As One Listens To The Rain



My interest in the poetry of Octavio Paz has spanned several years. The element which first attracted me to his work, and which I still find so compelling, was his use of natural imagery as a backdrop for – rather than a symbol of – deep meditations on the nature of human existence, love, both physical and spiritual, and the ceaseless ebb and flow, and occasional circularity, of time. In composing As One Listens to the Rain (using the excellent English translation by Eliot Weinberger), it was my intent to set the words as simply and as free of ornamentation as possible, so that their inherent beauty might resonate more fully. The image which struck me as most important was not the rain itself, but the act of listening to it, a constant white noise sealing one off from the outer world and allowing thoughts and memories to rise from within: shades of love, passion, lust, regret and tenderness passed by on the way toward a place of stillness and contemplation. Therefore, the rain is present in the chorus as an almost constant ostinato, through and over which the lines of the poem flow, occasionally covering it or venturing away, but never truly escaping its meditative pull, to be finally carried by it beyond music or speech, perhaps even beyond sound.

© Matthew Whittall




Vocal and Choral Works




Hämäläis-Osakunnan Laulajat, cond. Esko Kallio, Helsinki, April 24, 2004.

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by the Hämäläis-Osakunnan Laulajat for their 75th Anniversary.

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