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A Garland for de la Mare

Word count: 1748

Song Cycle by Herbert Norman Howells (1892 - 1983)

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1. Wanderers [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Wide are the meadows of night,
And daisies are shinng there,
Tossing their lovely dews,
Lustrous and fair;
And through these sweet fields go,
Wanderers amid the stars --
Venus, Mercury, Uranus, Neptune,
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars.

'Tired in their silver, they move,
And circling, whisper and say,
Fair are the blossoming meads of delight
Through which we stray.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The Lady Caroline (Lovelocks) [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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I watched the Lady Caroline
Bind up her dark and beauteous hair;
Her face was rosy in the glass,
And 'twixt the coils her hand would pass,
White in the candleshine.

Her bottles on the table lay,
Stoppered, yet sweet of violet;
Her image in the mirror stooped
To view those locks as lightly looped
As cherry-boughs in May.

The snowy night lay dim without,
I heard the Waits their sweet song sing;
The window smouldered keen with frost;
Yet still she twisted, sleeked and tossed
Her beauteous hair about.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Before Dawn [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Dim-berried is the mistletoe
With globes of sheenless grey,
The holly mid ten thousand thorns
Smoulders its fires away;
And in the manger Jesus sleeps
This Christmas Day.

Bull unto bull with hollow throat
Makes echo every hill,
Cold sheep in pastures thick with snow
The air with bleating fill;
While of his mother's heart this Babe
Takes His sweet will.

All flowers and butterflies lie hid,
The blackbird and the thrush
Pipe but a little as they flit
Restless from bush to bush
Even to the robin Gabriel hath
Cried softly "Hush!"

Now night's astir with burning stars
In darkness of the snow;
Burdened with frankincense and myrrh
And gold the Strangers go
Into a dusk where one dim lamp
Burns softly, lo!

No snowdrop yet its small head nods
In winds of winter drear;
No lark at casement in the sky
Sings matins shrill and clear;
Yet in this frozen mirk the Dawn
Breathes, Spring is here!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The old stone house [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Nothing on the grey roof, nothing on the brown,
Only a little greening where the rain drips down;
Nobody at the window, nobody at the door,
Only a little hollow which a foot once wore;
But still I tread on tiptoe, still tiptoe on I go,
Past nettles, porch, and weedy well, for oh, I know
A friendless face is peering, and a still clear eye
Peeps closely through the casement as my step goes by.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The three cherry trees (Siciliana) [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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  There were three cherry trees once,
  Grew in a garden all shady;
And there for delight of so gladsome a sight,
  Walked a most beautiful lady,
  Dreamed a most beautiful lady.

  Birds in those branches did sing,
  Blackbird and throstle and linnet,
But she walking there was by far the most fair --
  Lovelier than all else within it,
  Blackbird and throstle and linnet.

  But blossoms to berries do come,
  All hanging on stalks light and slender,
And one long summer's day charmed that lady away,
  With vows sweet and merry and tender;
  A lover with voice low and tender.

  Moss and lichen the green branches deck;
  Weeds nod in its paths green and shady:
Yet a light footstep seems there to wander in dreams,
  The ghost of that beautiful lady,
  That happy and beautiful lady.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. The old soldier [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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There came an Old Soldier to my door,
Asked a crust, and asked no more;
The wars had thinned him very bare,
Fighting and marching everywhere,
  With a Fol rol dol rol di do.

With nose stuck out, and cheek sunk in,
A bristling beard upon his chin -
Powder and bullets and wounds and drums
Had come to that Soldier as suchlike comes -
  With a Fol rol dol rol di do.

'Twas sweet and fresh with buds of May,
Flowers springing from every spray;
And when he had supped the Old Soldier trolled
The song of youth that never grows old,
  Called Fol rol dol rol di do.

Most of him rags, and all of him lean,
And the belt round his belly drawn tightsome in
He lifted his peaked old grizzled head,
And these were the very same words he said-
  A Fol-rol-dol-rol-di-do.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The song of the secret [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Where is beauty?
       Gone, gone:
The cold winds have taken it
  With their faint moan;
The white stars have shaken it,
  Trembling down,
Into the pathless deeps of the sea.
       Gone, gone
  Is beauty from me.

The clear naked flower
  Is faded and dead;
The green-leafed willow,
  Drooping her head,
Whispers low to the shade
  Of her boughs in the stream,
       Sighing a beauty,
       Secret as dream.


Confirmed with Peacock Pie. A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare, London: Constable & Co. Ltd., [1920], page 168.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Some one [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Some one came knocking
  At my wee, small door;
Some one came knocking,
  I'm sure - sure - sure;
I listened, I opened,
  I looked to left and right,
But naught there was a-stirring
  In the still dark night;
Only the busy beetle
  Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
  The screech-owl's call,
Only the cricket whistling
  [While]1 the dewdrops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
  At all, at all, at all.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Archer: "When"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. A queer story [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Three jolly Farmers
Once bet a pound
Each dance the others would
Off the ground.

Out of their coats
They slipped right soon,
And neat and nicesome
Put each his shoon.

One -- Two -- Three!
And away they go,
Not too fast,
And not too slow;

Out from the elm-tree's
Noonday shadow,
Into the sun
And across the meadow.

Past the schoolroom,
With knees well bent,
Fingers a flicking,
They dancing went.

Up sides and over,
And round and round,
They crossed click-clacking
The Parish bound;

By Tupman's meadow
They did their mile,
Tee-to-tum
On a three-barred stile.

Then straight through Whipham,
Downhill to Week,
Footing it lightsome,
But not too quick,

Up fields to Watchet
And on through Wye,
Till seven fine churches
They'd seen slip by --

Seven fine churches,
And five old mills,
Farms in the valley,
And sheep on the hills;

Old Man's Acre
And Dead Man's Pool
All left behind,
As they danced through Wool.

And Wool gone by,
Like tops that seem
To spin in sleep
They danced in dream:

Withy -- Wellover --
Wassop -- Wo --
Like an old clock
Their heels did go.

A league and a league
And a league they went,
And not one weary,
And not one spent.

And log, and behold!
Past Willow-cum-Leigh
Stretched with its waters
The great green sea.

Says Farmer Bates,
"I puffs and I blows,
What's under the water,
Why, no man knows!"

Says Farmer Giles,
"My mind comes weak,
And a good man drownded
Is far to seek."

But Farmer Turvey,
On twirling toes,
Up's with his gaiters,
And in he goes:

Down where the mermaids
Pluck and play
On their twangling harps
In a sea-green day;

Down where the mermaids
Finned and fair,
Sleek with their combs
Their yellow hair. . . .

Bates and Giles --
On the shingle sat,
Gazing at Turvey's
Floating hat.

But never a ripple
Nor bubble told
Where he was supping
Off plates of gold.

Never an echo
Rilled through the sea
Of the feasting and dancing
And minstrelsy.

They called -- called -- called;
Came no reply:
Nought but the ripples'
Sandy sigh.

Then glum and silent
They sat instead,
Vacantly brooding
On home and bed,

Till both together stood up and said: -- 
"Us knows not, dreams not,
Where you be, Turvey, 
unless in the deep blue sea;

But axcusing silver --
And it comes most willing --
Here's us two paying 
our forty shilling;

For it's sartin sure, Turvey,
Safe and sound,
You danced us a square, Turvey,
Off the ground."


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. Andy Battle [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Once and there was a young sailor, yeo ho!
  And he sailed out over the say
For the isles where pink coral and palm branches blow,
  And the fire-flies turn night into day,
        Yeo ho!
And the fire-flies turn night into day.

But the Dolphin went down in a tempest, yeo ho!
  And with three forsook sailors ashore,
The portingales took him wh'ere sugar-canes grow,
  Their slave for to be evermore,
        Yeo ho!
Their slave for to be evermore.

With his musket for mother and brother, yeo ho!
  He warred with the Cannibals drear,
In forests where panthers pad soft to and fro,
  And the Pongo shakes noonday with fear,
        Yeo ho!
And the Pongo shakes noonday with fear.

Now lean with long travail, all wasted with woe,
  With a monkey for messmate and friend,
He sits 'neath the Cross in the cankering snow,
  And waites for his sorrowful end,
        Yeo ho!
And waits for his sorrowful end.


First published 1910 in The Three Mulla-Mulgars; published 1913 in Peacock Pie.


Submitted by Ferdinando Albeggiani

11. The old house [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Authorship


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A very, very old house I know --
And ever so many people go,
Past the small lodge, forlorn and still,
Under the heavy branches, till
Comes the blank wall, and there's the door.
Go in they do; come out no more.
No voice says aught; no spark of light
Across that threshold cheers the sight;
Only the evening star on high
Less lonely makes a lonely sky,
As, one by one, the people go
Into that very old house I know.


Submitted by Barbara Miller

12. King David [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER

List of language codes

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , "König David", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


    King David was a sorrowful man:
        No cause for his sorrow had he;
And he called for the music of a hundred harps,
       To ease his melancholy.

    They played till they all fell silent:
        Played and play sweet did they;
But the sorrow that haunted the heart of King David
        They could not charm away.

    He rose; and in his garden
        Walked by the moon alone,
A nightingale hidden in a cypress tree,
        Jargoned on and on.

    King David lifted his sad eyes
        Into the dark-boughed tree --
"Tell me, thou little bird that singest,
        Who taught my grief to thee?"

    But the bird in no-wise heeded;
        And the king in the cool of the moon
Hearkened to the nightingale's sorrowfulness,
        Till all his own was gone.


Confirmed with Peacock Pie. A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare, London: Constable & Co. Ltd., [1920], page 111.


Submitted by Virginia Knight and Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

13. Before Dawn [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Authorship


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Dim-berried is the mistletoe
With globes of sheenless grey,
The holly mid ten thousand thorns
Smoulders its fires away;
And in the manger Jesus sleeps
This Christmas Day.

Bull unto bull with hollow throat
Makes echo every hill,
Cold sheep in pastures thick with snow
The air with bleating fill;
While of his mother's heart this Babe
Takes His sweet will.

All flowers and butterflies lie hid,
The blackbird and the thrush
Pipe but a little as they flit
Restless from bush to bush
Even to the robin Gabriel hath
Cried softly "Hush!"

Now night's astir with burning stars
In darkness of the snow;
Burdened with frankincense and myrrh
And gold the Strangers go
Into a dusk where one dim lamp
Burns softly, lo!

No snowdrop yet its small head nods
In winds of winter drear;
No lark at casement in the sky
Sings matins shrill and clear;
Yet in this frozen mirk the Dawn
Breathes, Spring is here!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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