Look Back on Time


Digital Score

Instrumentation: SATB divisi & piano

Duration: 6:00

Date of Publication: Fall 2017

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SKU: MH0020 Category:
About the work​

Weaving a dramatic narrative between two Emily Dickinson poems, Look Back on Time for mixed choir and piano reflects on the nature of our mortality.

Winner of True Concord’s Inaugural Stephen Paulus Emerging Composer Competition.

Premiered by True Concord Voices & Orchestra on March 22, 2018 at Catalina Foothills High School, Tucson, AZ.


In this short Life
that only (merely) lasts an hour
how much—how
little— is
within our


Look back
on Time
with kindly

He doubtless
did his best—
How softly
sinks his
trembling Sun
in Human
Nature’s West—

​Text by Emily Dickinson


These two poems by Emily Dickinson pull together a powerful narrative about our mortality. In the short time we have in this world, our mere existence changes the fate of those around us. Our actions shape the future. Yet, all the same, none of us will ever move a mountain in our lifetime. We are both powerful in the events we set into motion, and powerless in our moment.

Even though life is too fleeting to let us see the impact we have on the world, looking back on our past lets us know that our time here is a treasure. That time moves slowly enough for us to live, and regardless of our power, make all the difference.



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