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The Aviary

Word count: 439

Song Cycle by Richard Rodney Bennett (1936 - 2012)

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1. The birds' lament [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Oh, says the linnet, if I sing,
My love forsook me in the spring
and nevermore will I be seen
without my satin gown of green.
 
Oh, says the pretty featered jay,
Now my love is gone away
And foro the memory of my dear
A feather of each sort I'll wear.
 
Oh, says the rook and eke the crow,
The reason why in black we go
Because our love has us forsook,
So pity us poor crow and rook!
 
Oh, says the pretty speckled thrush
That changes its note from bush to bush,
My love has left me here alone,
I fear she never will return.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The owl [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER GER

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Die weiße Uhl", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


When cats run home and light is come
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his round-e-lay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The early nightingale [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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When first we hear the shy-come nightingales,
They seem to mutter oer their songs in fear,
And, climb we eer so soft the spinney rails,
All stops as if no bird was anywhere.
The kindled bushes with the young leaves thin
Let curious eyes to search a long way in,
Until impatience cannot see or hear
The hidden music; gets but little way
Upon the path--when up the songs begin,
Full loud a moment and then low again.
But when a day or two confirms her stay
Boldly she sings and loud for half the day;
And soon the village brings the woodman's tale
Of having heard the newcome nightingale.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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

Language: English

Translation(s): ITA

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

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Un passero solitario il suo amore lamenta", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


A widow bird sate mourning for her love
  Upon a wintry bough,
The frozen wind crept on above;
  The freezing stream below.

There was no leaf upon the forest bare,
  No [flower]1 upon the ground
And little motion in the air,
  Except the mill-wheel's sound.


View original text (without footnotes)
Some settings use the modernized spelling "sat" instead of "sate"
1 Treharne: "flowers".

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The lark [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say " I love and I love!"
In the winter they're silent -- the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing and loving -- all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and forever sings he --
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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