This poem of Stephen Crane is a good example for his fatalistic and pessimistic view of life. The workmen put a lot of effort into their work, but instead of a benefit their work comes after them and kills them. That means that all struggle in life leads to nothing but fall at last. The sentence at the end („But some had the opportunity to squeal“) seems to describe the inhuman brutality of the fate. The gods are laughing about those little humans.
My musical vision of this poem tries to mirror the contrasting two parts. The first part is uplifting, when the men can do their proud work, while the second part with thundering double-bass and more dissonant chords underlines the pain and angst, when the work turns into an enemy.
Built a huge ball of masonry
Upon a mountain-top.
Then they went to the valley below,
And turned to behold their work.
"It is grand," they said;
They loved the thing.
Of a sudden, it moved:
It came upon them swiftly;
It crushed them all to blood.
But some had opportunity to squeal.
Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
released March 31, 2019
Giacomo Rossi: Lead Vocals and choirs