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Six Sorrow Songs

Word count: 657

Song Cycle by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 - 1912)

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1. Oh what comes over the sea [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Oh what comes over the sea,
  Shoals and quicksands past;
And what comes home to me,
  Sailing slow, sailing fast?

A wind comes over the sea
  With a moan in its blast;
But nothing comes home to me,
  Sailing slow, sailing fast.

Let me be, let me be,
  For my lot is cast:
Land or sea all's one to me,
  And sail it slow or fast.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. When I am dead, my dearest [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER GER ITA WEL

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Nach meinem Tode, Liebster", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Canzone", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


When I am dead, my dearest,
  Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
  Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
  With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
  And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
  I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
  Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
  That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
  And haply may forget.


Submitted by Ted Perry

3. Oh roses for the flush of youth [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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O roses for the flush of youth, 
  And laurel for the perfect prime; 
But pluck an ivy branch for me 
  Grown old before my time. 

O violets for the grave of youth, 
  And bay for those dead in their prime; 
Give me the withered leaves I chose 
  Before in the old time.


Note: first published under the pseudonym of Ellen Alleyn.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. She sat and sang alway [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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She sat and sang alway
By the green margin of a stream,
Watching the fishes leap and play
Beneath the glad sunbeam.

I sat and wept alway
Beneath the moon's most shadowy beam,
Watching the blossoms of the May
Weep leaves into the stream.

I wept for memory;
She sang for hope that is so fair:
My tears were swallowed by the sea;
Her songs died on the air.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Unmindful of the roses [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Unmindful of the roses,
Unmindful of the thorn,
A reaper tired reposes
Among his gathered corn:
So might I, till the morn!

Cold as the cold Decembers,
Past as the days that set,
While only one remembers
And all the rest forget, --
But one remembers yet.


First published in Century, May 1884

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Too late for love [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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'Too late for love, too late for joy,
 Too late, too late!
You loitered on the road too long,
 You trifled at the gate:
The enchanted dove upon her branch
 Died without a mate;  
The enchanted princess in her tower
 Slept, died, behind the grate;
Her heart was starving all this while
 You made it wait.

'Ten years ago, five years ago,
 One year ago,
Even then you had arrived in time,
 Though somewhat slow;
Then you had known her living face
 Which now you cannot know:  
The frozen fountain would have leaped,
 The buds gone on to blow,
The warm south wind would have awaked
 To melt the snow.

'Is she fair now as she lies?
 Once she was fair;
Meet queen for any kingly king,
 With gold-dust on her hair.
Now these are poppies in her locks,
 White poppies she must wear;  
Must wear a veil to shroud her face
 And the want graven there:
Or is the hunger fed at length,
 Cast off the care?

'We never saw her with a smile
 Or with a frown;
Her bed seemed never soft to her,
 Though tossed of down;
She little heeded what she wore,
 Kirtle, or wreath, or gown;  
We think her white brows often ached
 Beneath her crown,
Till silvery hairs showed in her locks
 That used to be so brown.

'We never heard her speak in haste;
 Her tones were sweet,
And modulated just so much
 As it was meet:
Her heart sat silent through the noise
 And concourse of the street.  
There was no hurry in her hands,
 No hurry in her feet;
There was no bliss drew nigh to her,
 That she might run to greet.

'You should have wept her yesterday,
 Wasting upon her bed:
But wherefore should you weep to-day
 That she is dead?
Lo, we who love weep not to-day,
 But crown her royal head.  
Let be these poppies that we strew,
 Your roses are too red:
Let be these poppies, not for you
 Cut down and spread.'


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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