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Three Bird Songs

Word count: 293

Song Cycle by Alan Bullard (b. 1947)

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1. The owl [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Die weiße Uhl", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


When cats run home and light is come
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his round-e-lay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The cuckoo - When daisies pied [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FIN FRE FRE GER GER GER GER NOR

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , "Kevät", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (François-Victor Hugo)
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Anonymous/Unidentified Artist) , "Lied. Der Frühling", first published 1870
  • NOR Norwegian (Bokmål) (Arild Bakke) , "Når spraglet tusenfryd", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


When daisies pied and violets blue
 [And lady-smocks all silver white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,]1
  Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo, then on ev'ry tree
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,
  Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: o word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
  And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
[When]2 turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
  And maidens bleach their summer [smocks]3,
The cuckoo, then on ev'ry tree
Mocks married men, for thus sings he,
  Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: o word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stravinsky: reversed.
2 Arne: "And"
3 Arne: "frocks"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Little Trotty Wagtail [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Little Trotty Wagtail he went in the rain
And twittering, tottering sideways he ne'er got straight again,
He stooped to get a worm and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

Little Trotty Wagtail he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water pudge and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.

Little Trotty Wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling waterpudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand and in the warm pig stye,
So, little Master Wagtail, I'll bid you a goodbye.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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