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Scoring & Instrumentation
Tenor and Piano
Alternate Title


Year Authored (or revised)
Duration (min)
1. Flowers of Darkness (Davis)
2. Creole Girl (Collins)
3. Harlem Sweeties (Hughes)
4. At Early Morn (Desmond)
5. The Glory of the Day was In Her Face (Johnson)
6. O Daedalus, Fly Away Home (Hayden)

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Composer's Note:

Flowers of Darkness is a song cycle for Tenor and piano, with texts by six African American poets. The work explores facets of relationships between black men and black women –the "flowers of darkness"- as seen through the men's eyes.

The speaker in the title song employs images of the sensuous blossoming of the night to express his breathless admiration for the budding womanhood of the object of his passion. Another observer ponders whether the Creole Girl possesses atavistic recall of her varied geographical roots, while Harlem Sweeties features an admiring Harlem boulevardier who vernacularly savors the luscious, myriad colors of black female pulchritude.

Intimacy is implicit in At Early Morn: the narrator patiently bides his time while accommodating the requests of the reticent woman who summoned him to her side. The narrator in the following song lovingly extolls the beauty and virtue of his mate. It is with poignant tenderness that he recalls that The Glory of the Day Was in Her Face.

Loss and longing pervade the final song of the cycle. The title alludes to a figure in Greek mythology, the architect Daedalus, who constructed the labyrinth of Crete. When he was later imprisoned in it, he escaped by making wings of feathers and wax. The despondent protagonist in O Daedalus Fly Away Home likewise longs to escape a land he helped to build by weaving wings of "a wish and a weariness together". Feverishly beckoning the vision of his departed beloved, he yearns to "fly away home" to Africa.

Flowers of Darkness was written for William Brown. He premiered the work at Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1990 and later performed it at Merkin Hall in New York City.


New engraved 2022 edition from 1990 original.


First Perfomance




Text Language - Non English


Text Source/Author
Texts: Frank Marshall Davis, Leslie M. Collins, Langston Hughes, Binga Desmond, James Weldon Johnson, Robert E. Hayden
Title Number
Ensemble Type
Highlight Series
Music by women
Music by BIPOC - AALANA composers
African American experience
Tenor , piano
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$32.00 score