Open Road —2006

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Joseph J. Buches, artistic director, commissioned and premiered Open Road at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, to celebrate their 25th Anniversary Season.


I. O Highway I Travel

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?
Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied,
adhere to me?
O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I
love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

II. Toward Something Great

To see no possession, but you may possess it, enjoying all
without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not
abstracting one particle of it,
To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant
villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple,
and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever
you go,
To gather the minds of men as you encounter
them, to gather the love out of their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you
leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads
for traveling souls.
Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent,
feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where
they go,
But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.

III. As Long As We Live (Allons! Allons!)

Allons! through struggles and wars!
Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? Nature?
Now understand me well—it is provided in the essence of things
that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall
come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.
My call is the call of the battle
He going with me must go well arm’d,
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry
enemies, desertions.
Allons! the road is before us!
My friend, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

From Walt Whitman’s SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD