Songs of War is based on three poems by American poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967). Each poem shows both the horror of war and how distance shields spectators from comprehending that horror. Studying maps, reading newspapers, and visiting battlefields years later minimizes the trauma of war, leaving outsiders unaware of or even enthusiastic about the atrocities that have occurred thousands of miles away or many years ago. Though these poems were not written as a set, all were composed during World War I. My setting dramatizes them: the text is not simply sung; instead, the music conveys the weight of the moment, the mood of each scene.