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Nocturnes

Word count: 412

Song Cycle by Arnold Atkinson Cooke (1906 - 2005)

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1. The moon [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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And, like a dying lady, lean and pale,
Who totters forth, wrapp'd in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose up in the murky East,
A white and shapeless mass...

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Returning, we hear the larks [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Sombre the night is.
And though we have our lives, we know
What sinister threat lurks there.

Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
This poison-blasted track opens on our camp --
On a little safe sleep.

But hark! joy-joy-strange joy.
Lo! heights of night ringing with unseen larks
Music showering on our upturned list'ning faces.

Death could drop from the dark
As easily as song --
But song only dropped,
Like a blind man's dreams on the sand
By dangerous tides,
Like a girl's dark hair for she dreams no ruin lies there,
Or her kisses where a serpent hides.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. River roses [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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By the Isar, in the twilight
We were wandering and singing,
By the Isar, in the evening
We climbed the huntsman's ladder and sat swinging
In the fir-tree overlooking the marshes,
While river met with river, and the ringing
Of [their]1 pale-green glacier water filled the evening.

By the Isar, in the twilight
We found the dark wild roses
Hanging red at the river; and simmering
Frogs were singing, and over the river closes
Was savour of ice and of roses; and glimmering
Fear was abroad. We whispered: "No one knows us.
Let it be as the snake disposes
Here in this simmering marsh."


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1 Ogdon: "the"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The owl [ sung text checked 1 time]

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]

5. The boat song [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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The boat is chafing at our long delay,
And we must leave too soon
The spicy sea-pinks and the inborne spray,
The tawny sands, the moon.

Keep us, O Thetis, [in]1 our western flight!
Watch from thy pearly throne
Our vessel, plunging deeper into night
To reach a land unknown.


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1 Cooke: "on"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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