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Songs of Experience

Word count: 238

Song Cycle by William Alwyn (1905 - 1985)

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

Language: English

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The modest rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a threatening horn, 
While the lily white shall in love delight, 
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The poison tree [ 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) , "Un arbre empoisonné", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Ein Giftbaum", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I water'd it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole,
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE

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

  • FRE French (Fran├žais) (Guy Laffaille) , "Ah ! tournesol !", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Ah, Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime,
Where the traveller's journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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

Language: English

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A flower was offered to me;
Such a flower as May never bore.
But I said I've a Pretty Rose-tree!
And I passed the sweet flower o'er.

Then I went to my Pretty Rose-tree;
To tend her by day and by night.
But my Rose turnd away with jealousy:
And her thorns were my only delight.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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