Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

From Wind Repertory Project
Eric Stokes

Eric Stokes

Subtitle: by Walt Whitman

General Info

Year: 1997
Duration: c. 24:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manuscript
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Full Score
Flute I-VI (all double piccolo)
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-VI
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone I-II-III
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Piano (doubles celesta)
Percussion I-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bell Tree
  • Bells of Sarna
  • Bells of the Mass
  • Chimes
  • Crotales
  • Flexatone
  • Glockenspiel
  • Leaves, bucket of dried leaves
  • Maracas
  • Marimba
  • Mark Tree
  • Nipple Gongs
  • Rattles, bean pod
  • Sandpaper Blocks
  • Seed tins
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tenor Drum
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Vibra-slap
  • Xylophone

String Quintet

Solo baritone voice
Solo lyric soprano voice
SATB Chorus
Narrator (male)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This work of Walt Whitman stands as a landmark poem in the English language.

The poem centers on a vivid reminiscence of boyhood epiphanies and insights. They arise from the child's listening to and observing a pair of nesting birds on Paumanok's shore. The poet recalls and relives his youthful awakening to the life forces of ocean, love, lost love and death. His intense empathy for the lover's loss of the loved one is aroused by the "departing carols" of the solitary, remaining bird.

The bird's call to its lost mate forcefully awakens the boy to his own life's calling as "chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter." The bird's lament provokes the "outsetting bard" to declare:

"Demon or bird!...
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? Or is it really to me?
…now I have heard you.
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me."

That self-recognition of his life's calling ("I know what I am for") is then mingled with:

"The word final, superior to all,
Subtle, sent up – what is it?...
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves?
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?

Whereto answering, the sea, delaying not, hurrying not,
Whisper'd me through the night ….
Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word death…..
Hissing melodious,

Which I do not forget,
But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother,
With my own songs awaked from that hour,
And with them the key, the word up from the waves,
The word of the sweetest song and all songs,
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my feet, …..
The sea whisper'd me."

- Program Note by composer

This work is dedicated to Craig Kirchhoff. His steadfast confidence in its creation and his strong leadership in securing support for and numerous performances commitments to it have been and remain qualities of our continuing collaboration that I value above all else.

- Program Note from score

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" is a poem by Walt Whitman. It is one of Whitman's complex and successfully integrated poems. Whitman used several new techniques in the poem. One is the use of images like bird, boy, sea. The influence of music is also seen in opera form. Some critics have taken the poem to be an elegy mourning the death of someone dear to him. The basic theme of the poem is the relationship between suffering and art. It shows how a boy matures into a poet through his experience of love and death. Art is a sublimation of frustrations and death is a release from the stress and strains caused by such frustrations.

- Program Note from Wikipedia


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (Craig Kirchhoff, conductor; Concert Choir; Chamber Singers) – 27 April 2000 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer