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Four Blake Songs

Word count: 527

Song Cycle by Huub de Lange (b. 1955)

Show the texts alone (bare mode).

1. Cradle song [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER WEL

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming o'er the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep, in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel, 
Smiles as of the morning steal 
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast 
Where thy little heart does rest.

O! the cunning wiles that creep 
In thy little heart asleep. 
When thy little heart does wake 
Then the dreadful lightnings break, 

From thy cheek and from thy eye, 
O'er the youthful harvests nigh. 
Infant wiles and infant smiles 
Heaven and Earth of peace beguiles.


Submitted by Geoffrey Wieting

2. The little black boy [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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My mother bore me in the southern wild, 
  And I am black, but O! my soul is white!
White as an angel is the English child, 
  But I am black, as if bereaved of light. 

My mother taught me underneath a tree, 
  And, sitting down before the heat of day, 
She took me on her lap and kissèd me, 
  And, pointing to the East, began to say: 

"Look [at]2 the rising sun: there God does live, 
  And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive 
  Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday. 

"And we are put on earth a little space, 
  That we may learn to bear the beams of love; 
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face 
  [Are]1 but a cloud, and like a shady grove. 

"For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, 
  The cloud will vanish; we shall hear His voice, 
Saying: `Come out from the grove, my love and care,
  And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' " 

Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me;
  And thus I say to little English boy: 
When I from black and he from white cloud free, 
  And round the tent of God like lambs we joy, 

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear 
  To lean in joy upon our Father's knee; 
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, 
  And be like him, and he will then love me.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bolcom: "Is"
2 Bolcom, Cowell: "on"

Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

3. Laughing song [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): RUS WEL

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

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


When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it; 

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing "Ha ha he!"

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of "Ha ha he!"


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The fly [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

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 [Administrator]

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