I have often found, in the case of my compositions, that the germ of an idea may become implanted and then lie dormant for a long period only to be stirred into active life, after perhaps a considerable interval, by influences outside myself and not always recognizable.
Away back around 1915, I experienced my first acute Whitman excitement, and for some time, then, I studied the problem of setting to music in vocal form excerpts from some of the "Sea-Drift" poems. These experiments I could not bring to any result that satisfied me, and I dropped the project.
In February of last year , under the influence of the blue Mediterranean at Eze village, I took up the old problem again, and abandoned any attempt to make a literal setting of the Whitman verses in a vocal work. I tried to make a composite orchestral record of the imprint upon me of these poems. My hope is that the music makes sense, just as music, with perhaps a special meaning for those who love Whitman. My work represents an effort to transcribe my impressions derived from these magnificent poems.
John Alden Carpenter, in a letter to Lawrence Gilman of the New York Herald Tribune