Characteristically straightforward and terse, Sara Teasdale’s 1920 poem WHAT DO I CARE? suggests a devil-may-care attitude. As such, I set a majority of the text at a brisk tempo and employ easygoing gestures throughout the piece. But while the words might at first seem simple and light, upon deeper inspection it is apparent that Teasdale’s poem is about more than just a carefree attitude towards self-expression: it suggests an almost restless unease with the fact that one’s true identity might be compromised if the mind is too involved in affairs of the heart. And with the warning that “love will be over so soon,” Teasdale subtly evokes guilt and remorse, trademark concepts dealt with in so much of her poetry. But in the end, the poem’s message is one of warmth, and I support the lyrical lines with a sentimental and rich harmonic foundation.
—Jules Pegram (2013)