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in time of daffodils


for women's choir (SA), mixed chamber choir (SSAATB), mixed choir (SSAATB) and orchestra (10')

This 10-minute piece was inspired by the poem “in time of daffodils(who know” by E. E. Cummings from the collection of his 95 Poems (1958). Cummings’ poem shed a positive light on my own personal growth, of which the path has never been smooth and painless. Cummings reminds us that “the goal of living is to grow.”


The music aims at being more an overall impression on the optimism of the poem, rather than word-painting of the text. The harmonic language of the piece makes use of selective diatonic clusters, of which the melodic and harmonic materials are based upon. The piece starts with a spacious and calm introduction, followed by an energetic and faster section with the choirs singing the juxtaposition of the words “forgetting” and “remember,” two of which appear in all five stanzas in the poem. The complete first and second stanzas “in time of daffodils(who know…” and “in time of lilacs who proclaim…” are heard in a more lyrical section afterwards. A contrasting, faster music with metallic timbres is used for the third stanza “in time of roses(who amaze…,” which was placed before the first climax. The lyrical music comes back with the fourth stanza “in time of all sweet things beyond…” leading to a second climax, which is followed by the last stanza “and in a mystery to be….” The music concludes with a fading out.


This piece was commissioned by Hong Kong Baptist University for its 60th anniversary. Written for the HKBU Symphony Orchestra and three choirs: The Cantoría Hong Kong, HKBU Women’s Chorus, and HKBU Choir.



Full text:

in time of daffodils(who know

the goal of living is to grow)

forgetting why, remember how


in time of lilacs who proclaim

the aim of waking is to dream,

remember so(forgetting seem)


in time of roses(who amaze

our now and here with paradise)

forgetting if, remember yes


in time of all sweet things beyond

whatever mind may comprehend,

remember seek(forgetting find)


and in a mystery to be

(when time from time shall set us free)

forgetting me, remember me


E. E. Cummings

Text: Copyright 1958, 1986, © 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976 by George James Firmage, from COMPLETE POEMS: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

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