Oh, I’m sad for never knowing courage,
And I’m sad for the stilling of fear.
Close to the sun now and farther from the heart.
I think that my end must be near.
>I linger too long at a picnic
’cause a picnic’s gayer than me.
And I hold to the edge of the table
’cause the table’s stronger than me.
And I lean on anyone’s shoulder
Because anyone’s warmer than me.
I have been mulling over this 1942 poem by Jane Bowles since I first encountered it in 2000. I think the poem is unbearably sad: the embodiment of a specific kind of mid-20th-century female unhappiness. I do not live this life, but I am very conscious of having escaped it.
The song showed up unannounced one day while I was in residence at Ucross in the spring of 2016.
Farther from the Heart is part of my ongoing project, A Book of Days. You can listen to my recording by visiting 3 November.
Here’s the vocal score at the transposition that works best for me. I am happy to supply you with a different transposition, just let me know what you need when you order the materialsÂ below.
And thank you for supporting this low-key way of publishing.