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Requiem da Camera

Word count: 747

Song Cycle by Gerald Finzi (1901 - 1956)

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1. Prelude


[--- Tacet ---]

2. from 'August 1914'


How still this quiet cornfield is to-night!
By an intenser glow the evening falls,
Bringing, not darkness, but a deeper light;
Among the stooks a partridge covey calls.

The windows glitter on the distant hill;
Beyond the hedge the sheep-bells in the fold
Stumble on sudden music and are still;
The forlorn pinewoods droop above the wold.

An endless quiet valley reaches out
Pat the blue hills into the evening sky;
Over the stubble, cawing, goes a rout
Of rooks from harvest, flagging as they fly.

So beautiful it is, I never saw
So great a beauty on these English fields,
Touched by the [twilight's]1 coming into awe,
Ripe to the soul and rich with [summer's]1 yields.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

These homes, this valley spread below me here,
The rooks, the tilted stacks, the beasts in pen,
Have been the heartfelt things, past-speaking dear
To unknown generations of dead men,

Who, century after century, held these farms,
And, looking out to watch the changing sky,
Heard, as we hear, the rumours and alarms
Of war at hand and danger pressing nigh.

And knew, as we know, that the message meant
The breaking off of ties, the loss of friends,
Death, like a miser getting in his rent,
And no new stones laid where the trackway ends.

[ ... ]
Yet heard the news, and went discouraged home, And brooded by the fire with heavy mind, With such dumb loving of the Berkshire loam As breaks the dumb hearts of the English kind,
[ ... ]

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Still has omitted "'s"

3. Only a man harrowing clods


Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass1;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight2
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.


View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Saturday Review, January, 1916
1 couch-grass: a type of weed.
2 wight: man.

4. Lament


We who are left, how shall we look again
Happily on the sun or feel the rain
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudgingly and spent
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?

A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings --
But we, how shall we turn to little things
And listen to the birds and winds and streams
Made holy by their dreams,
Nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things?


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