Poetry-Themed Music by Pamela Marshall

In addition to birds and nature, I am often inspired by poetry. Recently I’ve written a lot of choral music, which usually needs poetry. But this post is about instrumental music that is connected to poetry in some way. I’ve written pieces structured to match the poem’s structure, that follow the rhythm of the text, that reflect on a line or just the title, or that reflect the poem’s ideas in an intuitive way. I have a series of solo pieces that interpret a poem in some way.

If you perform one of these pieces, consider reading the poem before you play, or have a friend read. In my experience, audiences have enjoyed hearing the connection between the words and music.

Some of my poetry-inspired pieces


Rising for viola or Rising for cello
“I Rise” by Maya Angelou

Quinteto sobre los poemas de Carlos Pintado for violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano
A 30-minute piece with four movements closely tied to poems by Cuban-American poet Carlos Pintado

Truth Becoming for string quartet
“The Process” by May Swenson


High Flight for flute
“High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, an inspiration to aviators and astronauts

Mirror of Diana for flute & percussion
Two pieces inspired by individual lines in the poem “Mirror of Diana” by Victorian-era poet Mathilde Blind

Beyond the Storm for oboe
“La Mer” by Oscar Wilde

Returning for clarinet
“Natural History” by E.B. White

Summer Into Winter for clarinet
“Sonnet #5” by William Shakespeare

I Am the Wind for bassoon
“i Am the Wind” by Zoë Akins

Unabashed Promotion for bassoon
On the Cackling of a Hen” by John Bunyan, 17th-century writer


Sunrise on the Hills for horn
“Sunrise on the Hills”, an early poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Time to Stand and Stare for trumpet
“Leisure” by William Henry Davies, Welsh poet who died in 1940

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