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Songs of Experience, Volume One

Word count: 1761

Song Cycle by William Bolcom (b. 1938)

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1. Introduction


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[--- Tacet ---]

2. Hear the voice of the Bard [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

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Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, and Future see;
Whose ears have heard
the Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees,

Calling the lapsed Soul 
And weeping in the evening dew
That might control
the starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

"O earth, O earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn, 
and [the morn]1
rises from the slumbering mass.

"Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
the watery shore,
Is given thee till break of day."


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Mitchell: morning

Submitted by Victoria Brago

3. Interlude


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[--- Tacet ---]

4. Earth's answer [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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Earth rais'd up her head
From the darkness dread and drear.
Her light fled,
Stony dread!
And her locks cover'd with grey despair.

"Prison'd on wat'ry shore,
Starry Jealousy does keep my den:
Cold and hoar,
Weeping o'er,
I hear the Father of the Ancient Men.

"Selfish Father of Men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish Fear!
Can delight,
Chain'd in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?

"Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?

"Break this heavy chain
That does freeze my bones around.
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!
That free Love with bondage bound."


Submitted by Emily Ezust

5. Nurse's song [ sung text verified 1 time]

Language: English

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When the voices of children are heard on the green 
And whisp'rings are in the dale, 
The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind, 
My face turns green and pale. 

Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down, 
And the dews of night arise; 
Your spring & your day are wasted in play, 
And your winter and night in disguise.


Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

6. The fly [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER RUS

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "La mouche", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Мотылёк", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand 
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath
And the want 
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.


Submitted by Emily Ezust

7. The tyger [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): CAT FRE GER GER RUS

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El tigre", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le tigre", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Der Tiger", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , "Der Tiger", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Тигр", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,  
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?  

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?  
On what wings dare he aspire?  
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?  

What the hammer? what the chain,  
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!  

When the stars threw down their spears  
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:  
What immortal hand or eye,  
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


Submitted by Emily Ezust

8. The little girl lost [ sung text verified 1 time]

Language: English

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In futurity 
I prophetic see 
That the earth from sleep 
(Grave the sentence deep) 

Shall arise and seek 
For her maker meek; 
And in the desart wild 
Become a garden mild.

[ ... ]

Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

9. In the Southern Clime [ sung text verified 1 time]

Language: English

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[ ... ]
In the southern clime, Where the summer's prime Never fades away, Lovely Lyca lay. Seven summers old Lovely Lyca told; She had wander'd long Hearing wild birds' song. ``Sweet sleep, come to me Underneath this tree. Do father, mother weep, Where can Lyca sleep? ``Lost in desart wild Is your little child. How can Lyca sleep If her mother weep? ``If her heart does ake Then let Lyca wake; If my mother sleep, Lyca shall not weep. ``Frowning, frowning night, O'er this desart bright Let thy moon arise While I close my eyes.'' Sleeping Lyca lay While the beasts of prey, Come from caverns deep, View'd the maid asleep. The kingly lion stood And the virgin view'd, Then he gamboll'd round O'er the hollow'd ground. Leopards, tygers, play Round her as she lay, While the lion old Bow'd his mane of gold. And her bosom lick, And upon her neck From his eyes of flame Ruby tears there came; While the lioness Loos'd her slender dress, And naked they convey'd To caves the sleeping maid.

Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

10. The little girl found [ sung text verified 1 time]

Language: English

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All the night in woe 
Lyca's parents go 
Over vallies deep, 
While the desarts weep. 

Tired and woe-begone, 
Hoarse with making moan, 
Arm in arm seven days 
They trac'd the desart ways. 

Seven nights they sleep 
Among the shadows deep, 
And dream they see their child 
Starv'd in desart wild. 

Pale, thro' pathless ways 
The fancied image strays 
Famish'd, weeping, weak, 
With hollow piteous shriek. 

Rising from unrest, 
The trembling woman prest 
With feet of weary woe: 
She could no further go. 

In his arms he bore 
Her, arm's with sorrow sore; 
Till before their way 
A couching lion lay. 

Turning back was vain: 
Soon his heavy mane 
Bore them to the ground. 
Then he stalk'd around, 

Smelling to his prey; 
But their fears allay 
When he licks their hands, 
And silent by them stands. 

They look upon his eyes 
Fill'd with deep surprise, 
And wondering behold 
A spirit arm'd in gold. 

On his head a crown, 
On his shoulders down 
Flow'd his golden hair. 
Gone was all their care. 

``Follow me,'' he said; 
``Weep not for the maid; 
In my palace deep 
Lyca lies asleep.'' 

Then they followed 
Where the vision led, 
And saw their sleeping child 
Among the tygers wild. 

To this day they dwell 
In a lonely dell; 
Nor fear the wolvish howl 
Nor the lion's growl.


Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

11. The clod and the pebble [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): RUS

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Комок и камень", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."


Submitted by Emily Ezust

12. The little vagabond [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

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Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,
But the Ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm;
Besides I can tell where I am used well,
Such usage in heaven will never do well.

But if at the Church they would give us some Ale,
And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray.

Then the Parson might preach, & drink, & sing,
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;
And modest dame Lurch, who is always at Church,
Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see
His children as pleasant and happy as he,
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the Barrel,
But kiss him, & give him both drink and apparel.


Submitted by Emily Ezust

13. Holy Thursday [ sung text verified 1 time]

Language: English

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Is this a holy thing to see 
In a rich and fruitful land, 
Babes reduc'd to misery, 
Fed with cold and usurous hand? 

Is that trembling cry a song? 
Can it be song of joy? 
And so many children poor? 
It is a land of poverty! 

And their sun does never shine, 
And their fields are bleak & bare, 
And their ways are fill'd with thorns: 
It is eternal winter there. 

For where-e'er the sun does shine, 
And were-e'er the rain does fall, 
Babe can never hunger there, 
Nor poverty the mind appall.



Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

14. A poison tree [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Un arbre empoisonné", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Ein Giftbaum", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I water'd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole,
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree.


Submitted by Emily Ezust

15. The angel [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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I dreamt a dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen,
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe was ne'er beguil'd! 

And I wept both night and day,
And he wip'd my tears away,
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart's delight.

So he took his wings and fled;
Then the morn blush'd rosy red;
I dried my tears, and arm'd my fears
With ten thousand shields and spears.

Soon my Angel came again:
I was arm'd, he came in vain;
For the time of youth was fled,
And grey hairs were on my head.


Submitted by Emily Ezust

16. The sick rose [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

Translation(s): CAT FRE FRE GER GER GER IRI NYN RUS SPA

List of language codes

Authorship


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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "La rosa malalta", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Jean-Pierre Granger) , "La rose malade", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Die erkrankte Rose", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Die kranke Rose", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • IRI Irish (Gaelic) [singable] (Gabriel Rosenstock) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • NYN Norwegian (Nynorsk) (Are Frode Søholt) , "Elegi", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Больная роза", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Pablo Sabat) , "Elegía"


O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.


Submitted by Emily Ezust

17. To Tirzah [ sung text not verified ]

Language: English

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Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free:
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blowd in the morn; in evening died
But Mercy changed Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part.
With cruelty didst mould my Heart.
And with false self-deceiving tears.
Didst blind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free.
Then what have I to do with thee?


Submitted by Emily Ezust

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