Look Out


Wendell Berry (b.1934)

Another dramatic Szymko setting of poetry by the great Wendell Berry. This intense work explores the greed of those who wield power over land, people, governments, information– over the future. Berry’s poem, and this choral setting has a long arc, as does history. And so the conclusion of the work is really a beginning– a gathering of energy and of courage — of heart.  Commissoned by Women in Harmony (Portland, ME) to commemorate their 25th Anniversary, their performance of “Look Out” at the 2018 Sister Singers Network Festival  “brought down the house”, — eliciting both chills and tears.



Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
digital download
SATB, piano $2.50
digital download
SSAA, alto solo, piano $2.50
JS-088 digital purchase only N/A https://www.joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/Look%20Out_JS-088.mp3
JS-086 digital purchase only N/A https://www.joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/Look%20Out_JS-086.mp3

Audio Credits: 

SSAA:Women in Harmony of Portland, Maine; SATB; Humanis, Portland, OR

Look Out

Wendell Berry

Come to the window, look out, and see

the valley turning green in remembrance

of all springs past and to come, the woods

perfecting with immortal patience

the leaves that are the work of all of time,

the sycamore whose white limbs shed

the history of a man’s life with their old bark,

the river quivering under the morning’s breath

like the touched skin of a horse, and you will see

also the shadow cast upon it by fire, the war

that lights its way by burning the earth.

Come to your windows, people of the world,

look out at whatever you see wherever you are,

and you will see dancing upon it that shadow.

You will see that your place, wherever it is,

your house, your garden, your shop,your forest, your farm,

bears the shadow of its destruction by war

which is the economy of greed which is plunder

which is the economy of wrath which is fire.

The Lords of War sell the earth to buy fire,

they sell the water and air of life to buy fire.

They are little men grown great by willingness

to drive whatever exists into its perfect absence.

Their intention to destroy any place is solidly founded

upon their willingness to destroy every place.

Every household of the world is at their mercy,

the households of the farmer and the otter and the owl

are at their mercy. They have no mercy.

Having hate, they can have no mercy.

Their greed is the hatred of mercy.

Their pockets jingle with the small change of the poor.

Their power is the willingness to destroy

everything for knowledge which is money

which is power which is victory

which is ashes sown by the wind.

Leave your windows and go out, people of the world,

go into the streets, go into the fields, go into the  woods

and along the streams. Go together, go alone.

Say no to the Lords of War which is Money

which is Fire. Say no by saying yes

to the air, to the earth, to the trees,

yes to the grasses, to the rivers, to the birds

and the animals and every living thing, yes

to the small houses, yes to the children. Yes.


digital download