This piece was inspired by Theodore Roethke's poem "The Lost Son".

I wrote it after reading an article in The New Yorker about Roethke. Here is the relevant passage from the article:

From “The Lost Son and Other Poems” through his next book, “Praise to the End!” (1951), to “The Waking” (1953), Roethke experimented with this new style. But he never accomplished more with it than he did in “The Lost Son,” the first poem in the sequence. Like “The Waste Land,” whose influence is profound but seldom obvious, “The Lost Son” dispenses with plot and argument for the sake of a hypnotically effective voice. The poem charts the emotions of a man mourning the death of his father, and it progresses through a chain of moods: grief, nostalgia, regression to childhood terrors, and, finally, a tentative reawakening to adulthood. Appropriately, Roethke draws from the deepest wells of the English language—Mother Goose, Shakespeare, the Bible—in order to create a new idiom for primal experience:

All the leaves stuck out their tongues;
I shook the softening chalk of my bones,
Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time.

—From an article by Adam Kirsch in The New Yorker

Zeitgeist performed "The Lost Son" on February 21, 2006 in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the American Composers Forum Tuesday Salon.  Zeitgeist is Pat O'Keefe on bass clarinet, Shannon Wettstein, on piano, and Heather Barringer, on snare drum, with special guest Jane Garvin, on flute.

Performance by Zeitgeist is © 2006, by Zeitgeist, all rights reserved. The score is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs2.5 License.