Barlow Bradford Publishing

The Fleeting World

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Series: Signature Secular Series
Format: SATB Choral Score
Accompaniment: Unaccompanied 
Donald M. Skirvin
Text: Traditional Buddhist Texts, and Gordon E. Abshire
Performance time - ca. 6:25

Note: There is a 16-copy minimum for this title.

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The Fleeting World is a quiet, meditative final movement of "Songs of Enlightenment," a three-movement work of Buddhist texts and Buddhist-themed poetry. The Fleeting World focuses on the transitory nature of life, using verses from the Diamond Sutra and a contemporary poem by Gordon E. Abshire that explores the impermanence of life in modern terms with striking imagery borrowed from a close observation of natural processes, all underpinned with rich harmonies that alternate with spare melodies. The work is a cappella SATB with divisi throughout.

Based on a verse from Section XXXII
of the Diamond Sutra:

As a lamp misted with dew,
as stars at dawn,
froth and bubbles in a stream,
lightning flickering in the clouds,
phantoms and dreams,
so view the fleeting world.

a poem by Gordon E. Abshire:

No matter the shallow stream
I cannot cross
The willows on the near bank
Restrain me.

My hearth is cold
I watched the last ember die
The ashes scatter in the draft
Wind rattles the shutters.

My humble cottage trembles
At the base of the mountain
Crows fly randomly
Against the slate sky.

I watch the boat in the river
The sun sets reluctantly
Summer’s flowers dry in the wind
Gray rocks await the frost.

Old pilings pierce the shore
Small craft ride gently on the tide
The memory of other boats
Disturbs the water’s flow.

I shake the dust from small boxes
Searching for dried flowers
Plucked from summer’s bounty
A lifetime’s unfamiliar tokens.

One small boat braves the wind
Cuts through rippling water
Determined and solitary
Mist gathers in the distance.

Small feathers nestle in the grass
A rough breeze disturbs them
Yet the grass is still
A falcon rides the wind.

I am alone in this empty room
Dry branches whisper
The door blows open
My wounded heart is fed.

Cold sunset, colder river
Leaves tumble in the meadow
This season comes too soon
Night settles quickly, gently.