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Three Songs after Emily Dickinson

Word count: 244

Song Cycle by William Sydeman (b. 1928)

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?. I heard a fly buzz when I died [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died -- 
The Stillness [in the Room]1
Was like the Stillness in the Air -- 
Between the Heaves of Storm.

The Eyes [around]2 -- had wrung them dry -- 
And Breaths were gathering [sure]3
For that last Onset -- when the King
Be witnessed -- in [the Room]4 -- 

I willed my Keepsakes -- Signed away
What portion of me [be
Assignable -- and then it was]5
There interposed a Fly -- 

With Blue -- uncertain stumbling Buzz -- 
Between the light -- and me -- 
And then the Windows failed -- and then
I could not see to see --


View original text (without footnotes)
1 some versions of the original poem have "round my form"
2 "" : "beside"
3 "" : "firm" (used by Rusche)
4 "" : "his power"
5 "" : "I / Could make assignable, -- and then"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. I taste a liquor never brewed [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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

  • FRE French (Fran├žais) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Hope is a thing with feathers [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER

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

  • FRE French (Fran├žais) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Hope is [the]1 thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Syderman: "a"; further changes may exist not noted.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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