In her poem yorn, Yiddish poet Anna Margolin reflects back on her life, and closes by speaking directly to God ending with the line: “un zukhn dir, nit gloybndik in dir” - “and seeking you, not believing in you.” This poem, as well as the poems included in this work, can be understood as kinds of secular prayers. Each deals in some way with the meaning and shape of life, embracing its joy while trying to make sense of its difficulties and transience. Many of my favorite poems are like little talismans or amulets - each a kernel of wisdom that I carry through life because they provide for me something to hold on to in the face of life’s challenges and transience - each poem a way of seeking God without believing in God.
and all the days were purple features a collection of such gems in Yiddish and English from poets Anna Margolin, Edward Hirsch, Rachel Korn, Abraham Sutzkever, and Mark Strand. The cycle is bookended with two songs setting Anna Margolin poems that act as a kind of prelude and postlude. Each Anna Margolin poem reflects on life from the perspective of being after or outside of it. Instrumental sections separate these two songs from the four others, which reflect on life from within its tumult, longing, beauty, and difficulty.28' for Singer and Ensemble