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The Four Seasons

Word count: 1752

Song Cycle by Derek Holman (b. 1931)

Show the texts alone (bare mode).

1. Blow, blow thou winter wind [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FIN FRE FRE GER GER GER ITA ITA SWE

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

  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Paavo Cajander)
  • FRE French (Français) (François Pierre Guillaume Guizot)
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (David Paley) , "Stürm, stürm du Winterwind!", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Soffia, soffia vento invernale", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Paolo Montanari) , "Soffia, soffia, vento d'inverno", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Blow, blow thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As [man's]1 ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
[Because]2 thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
[ Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.]3

Freeze, freeze thou [bitter]4 sky,
[Thou dost]5 not bite so [nigh]6
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As [friend]7 remember'd not.
[ Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.]3


View original text (without footnotes)
Note: In Steele's score, "Heigh" is spelled "Hey"
1 Arne: "men's"
2 Parry: "Although"
3 not set by Arne.
4 Fortner: "winter"
5 Clearfield, Holman: "That does"
6 Korngold: "high"
7 Clearfield: "a friend"; Steele: "friends"

Submitted by Ted Perry

2. Christmas Eve [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures [where]1
[They]2 dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,

In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.


View original text (without footnotes)
First published in The Times, December 1915
1 omitted by Gibbs.
2 Gibbs: "As they"

Submitted by Ted Perry

3. The hounds of spring [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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When the hounds of spring are on winter's traces,
  The mother of months in meadow or plain
Fills the shadows and windy places
  With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;
And the brown bright nightingale amorous 
Is half assuaged for Itylus,
For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces.
  The tongueless vigil, and all the pain.

[ ... ]
For winter's rains and ruins are over, And all the season of snows and sins; The days dividing lover and lover, The light that loses, the night that wins; And time remember'd is grief forgotten, And frosts are slain and flowers begotten, And in green underwood and cover Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
[ ... ]

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Fair daffodils [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): DUT FIN GER

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Pauline Kroger) , "Aan de narcissen", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , "Narsisseille", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , "An Narzissen", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Stay, stay
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to [the]1 evensong,
And, having pray'd together, we	
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die,
As your hours [do,]2 and dry
Away,
Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Darke.
2 omitted by Farrar.

Submitted by Ted Perry

5. Summer thirst [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks and gapes for drink again;
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair;
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill'd that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
By 's drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and when he 's done,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
They drink and dance by their own light
They drink and revel all the night:
Nothing in Nature 's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there—for why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why? 


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. August [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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There were four apples on the bough,
Half gold half red, that one might know
The blood was ripe inside the core;
The colour of the leaves was more
Like stems of yellow corn that grow
Through all the gold June meadow’s floor.
The warm smell of the fruit was good
To feed on, and the split green wood,
With all its bearded lips and stains
Of mosses in the cloven veins,
Most pleasant, if one lay or stood
In sunshine or in happy rains.
There were four apples on the tree,
Red stained through gold, that all might see
The sun went warm from core to rind;
The green leaves made the summer blind
In that soft place they kept for me
With golden apples shut behind.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. Towered Camelot [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
          To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
          The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, 
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
          Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers, 
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
          The Lady of Shalott.

[ ... ]

Confirmed with Quiller-Couch, Arthur Thomas, Sir. The Oxford Book of English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon, 1919, [c1901]; Bartleby.com, 1999. www.bartleby.com/101/700.html.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. The West Wind [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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O wild West Wind, [ thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

[ ... ]
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universe Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth! And, by the incantation of this verse, Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawakened earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Elgar

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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