Paper Boats


SATB Choir & Piano

Note: This is a digital score (PDF).

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The Story

Rabindranath Tagore was an important figure in Bengal, India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote poetry, plays, composed music, served social causes, and thought deeply about the world and its beauties and issues. “Paper Boats” playfully journeys through the mind of a young person, wishing to be known in a wild, wonderful world. While the poem is playful, it is also packed with layers of meaning and metaphor. This musical setting hopes to capture this playfulness and depth, while encouraging the singers and listeners to re-discover the world, and themselves, with child-like wonder.

As a composer, I believe in the power of music, but more so in the power of community. This piece is a vehicle for story telling, and also for developing compassion for the stories and lives of others. Each of us wants to be seen, to be “known,” as Tagore writes. I encourage each choir to experience “sharing your boats.” Each member of the ensemble may fold their own origami paper boat (see a folding guide on the webpage for this piece) and write on the boat something special about themselves that they want others to know. The ensemble can exchange these boats in their rehearsal process, and/or they can share them with the audience.

SATB Choir & Piano


Austin Peay State University. Korre Foster, Director of Choral Activities.

Make a Paper Boat


Paper Boats
by Rabindranath Tagore (adapt. Runestad)

Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running stream.
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of the village where I live.

I hope someone will find them and know how I am.

I load my boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and
hope these blooms of dawn will be carried safely into the night.

I launch my boats and look up to the sky
and see the little clouds setting their white, bulging sails.

I don’t know what playmate of mine in the sky
sends them down the air to race with my boats!

When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream
that my paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.




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