To a child dancing in the wind

Song Cycle by John Kenneth Tavener (1944 - 2013)

Word count: 958

1. He wishes for the cloths of heaven [sung text not yet checked]

Had I the [heavens']1 embroidered cloths
Enwrought with golden and silver light
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

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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
  • HUN Hungarian (Magyar) (Tamás Rédey) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
Original title is "Aedh wishes for the cloths of heaven"; revised 1906; re-titled "He wishes for the cloths of heaven".

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 45.

1 Gurney: "Heaven's"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The old men admiring themselves in the water [sung text not yet checked]

I heard the old, old men say,
"Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away."
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
I heard the old, old men say,
"All that's beautiful drifts away,
Like the waters."

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

First published in Pall Mall Magazine, January 1903

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 82.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. To a child dancing in the wind [sung text not yet checked]

Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or water's roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool's triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind?

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Note: also sometimes titled "To a Child dancing upon the shore"
First published in Poetry, Chicago (December 1912), revised 1913

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Two years later [sung text not yet checked]

Has no one said those daring
Kind eyes should be more learn'd?
Or warned you how despairing
The moths are when they are burned,
I could have warned you, but you are young,
So we speak a different tongue.
  
O you will take whatever's offered
And dream that all the world's a friend,
Suffer as your mother suffered,
Be as broken in the end.
But I am old and you are young,
And I speak a [barbarous]1 tongue.

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1 Grill: "different"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

5. The fiddler of Dooney [sung text not yet checked]

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. A deep-sworn vow [sung text not yet checked]

Others because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. Sweet dancer [sung text not yet checked]

The girl goes dancing there
On the leaf-sown, new-mown, smooth
Grass plot of the garden;
Escaped from bitter youth,
Escaped out of her crowd,
Or out of her black cloud.
Ah, dancer, ah, sweet dancer!

If strange men come from the house
To lead her away, do not say
That she is happy being crazy;
Lead them gently astray;
Let her finish her dance,
Let her finish her dance.
Ah, dancer, ah, sweet dancer!

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First published in London Mercury, March 1938

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. The stolen child [sung text not yet checked]

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

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First published in Irish Monthly, December 1886.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. He wishes for the cloths of heaven [sung text not yet checked]

Had I the [heavens']1 embroidered cloths
Enwrought with golden and silver light
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

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

View original text (without footnotes)
Original title is "Aedh wishes for the cloths of heaven"; revised 1906; re-titled "He wishes for the cloths of heaven".

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 45.

1 Gurney: "Heaven's"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. The Countess Cathleen in Paradise [sung text not yet checked]

All the heavy days are over;
Leave the body's coloured pride
Underneath the grass and clover,
With the feet laid side by side.
 
[One with her are mirth and duty;
Bear the gold-embroidered dress,
For she needs not her sad beauty,]1
To the scented oaken press.
 
[Hers]2 the kiss of Mother Mary,
[The long hair is on her face]3;
[Still]4 she goes with footsteps wary
Full of earth's old timid grace.
 
[With white feet of angels seven
Her white feet go glimmering;
And above the deep of heaven,
Flame on flame, and wing on wing.]5

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Edmunds: "Bathed in flaming founts of duty; / She'll not ask a haughty dress, / Carry all that mournful beauty,"
2 Edmunds: "Did"
3 Edmunds: "Put the music in her face"
4 Edmunds: "Yet"
5 Edmunds: "'Mong the feet of angels seven / What a dancer glimmering! / All the heav'ns bow down to Heaven / Flame to flame and wing to wing."

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Garrett Medlock [Guest Editor]