In effect it is this: that I love you (2021)

For piano trio
Duration: ca. 10'30''

Composed for the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (ECCE) as part of The Etchings Festival 2021

This piece is inspired by a love letter written by renowned WWI poet Wilfred Owen to his colonel, mentor, and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon. Both literary legends were known for their raw depictions of the war in their poetry with Sassoon serving as a major influence to Owen’s own work. Both were also closeted homosexuals in a time and place where it was criminalized. Even so, the incredible bond the two formed during their time together is so evident in the unrelenting love and admiration that Owen exemplifies in this letter. Sadly, their relationship came to a tragic end when Owen was killed in battle a week before the end of the war. Siegfried was left with severe survivor’s guilt as a result and was never truly able to move on. This piece seeks to portray the unrelenting, tumultuous love between the two but also the grief and painful guilt experienced after a loved one’s death. 

Wilfred Owen’s letter to Siegfried Sassoon. 27 November 1917. Public domain. 

“Know that since mid-September, when you still regarded me as a tiresome little knocker on your door, I held you as Keats + Christ + Elijah + my Colonel + my father-confessor + Amenophis IV in profile. 

          What's that mathematically? 

          In effect it is this: that I love you, dispassionately, so much, so very much, dear Fellow, that the blasting little smile you wear on reading this can't hurt me in the least. 

          If you consider what the above Names have severally done for me, you will know what you are doing. And you have fixed my Life – however short. You did not light me: I was always a mad comet; but you have fixed me. I spun round you a satellite for a month, but I shall swing out soon, a dark star in the orbit where you will blaze. It is some consolation to know that Jupiter himself sometimes swims out of Ken!”

Wilfred Owen

Siegfried Sassoon