for soprano and piano
Text by Rudyard Kipling
premiered September 26, 2007
Andrea Axelrod, soprano; Paul Trueblood, piano
The Triad, New York
Kipling’s Mesopotamia was written in 1917 in reference to a 1914 British campaign to, among other things, capture Baghdad during World War I. Inspired by the strategic importance of oil fields, the operation had unexpectedly disastrous results due to a lack of understanding of local conditions. The disparity between the military and political theory of the authorities and the daily reality for the troops was striking to Kipling, whose son had died in another ill-conceived battle in 1915.
THEY shall not return to us, the resolute, the young
Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide
Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Their lives cannot repay us—their death could not undo—