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Twelve Blake Songs

Word count: 1613

Song Cycle by William Henry Bell (1873 - 1946)

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

Language: English

Translation(s): GER RUS

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Dir, Lenz", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "К Весне", first published 1979, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


O Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro' the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring! 

The hills tell each other, and the list'ning
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turned
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime.

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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

Language: English

Translation(s): RUS

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "К Лету", first published 1979, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


O thou who passest thro' our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched'st here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair. 

Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
Rode o'er the deep of heaven; beside our springs
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on
Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy
Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream:
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.

Our bards are fam'd who strike the silver wire:
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains:
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance:
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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

Language: English

Translation(s): DAN GER RUS

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Dem Herbste", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "К Осени", first published 1979, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers. 

The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees."
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Winter [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): RUS

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "К Зиме", first published 1979, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


"O Winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs,
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car."

He hears me not, but o'er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain'd, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes,
For he hath rear'd his sceptre o'er the world.

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o'er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

He takes his seat upon the cliffs, -- the mariner
Cries in vain. Poor little wretch, that deal'st
With storms! -- till heaven smiles, and the monster
Is driv'n yelling to his caves beneath mount Hecla.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. To the Evening [ 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) , "Dem Abendstern", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
Smile on our loves, and while thou drawest the
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes
In timely sleep. Let thy west wing sleep on
The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes,
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon,
Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide,
And the lion glares through the dun forest.
The fleeces of our flocks are covered with
Thy sacred dew; protect with them with thine influence.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. To Morning [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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O holy virgin! clad in purest white,
Unlock heaven's golden gates, and issue forth;
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heaven; let light
[Rise]1 from the chambers of the east, and bring
The honey'd dew that cometh on waking day.
O radiant morning, salute the sun
Roused like a huntsman to the chase, and with
Thy buskin'd feet appear [upon]2 our hills.
[O radiant morning appear on our hills]3


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Mitchell: "Arise"
2 Mitchell: "on"
3 added by Mitchell

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. My pretty 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]

8. The fairy [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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"Come hither, my sparrows,
My little arrows.
If a tear or a smile
Will a man beguile,
If an amorous delay
Clouds a sunshiny day,
If the step of a foot
Smites the heart to its root,
'Tis the marriage-ring -
Makes each fairy a king."

So a Fairy sung.
From the leaves I sprung;
He leap'd from the spray
To flee away;
But in my hat caught,
He soon shall be taught.
Let him laugh, let him cry,
He's my Butterfly;
For I've pull'd out the sting
Of the marriage-ring.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. In a myrtle shade [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Why should I be bound to thee,
O my lovely Myrtle-tree?
Love, free Love, cannot be bound
To any tree that grows on ground.

O! how sick and weary I
Underneath my Myrtle lie;
Like to dung upon the ground,
Underneath my Myrtle bound.

Oft my Myrtle sigh'd in vain
To behold my heavy chain:
Oft my Father saw us sigh,
And laugh'd at our simplicity.

So I smote him, and his gore
Stain'd the roots my Myrtle bore.
But the time of youth is fled,
And grey hairs are on my head.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. The birds [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): HUN

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He.  
 Where thou dwellest, in what grove,
 Tell me Fair One, tell me Love;
 Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
 O thou pride of every field!

She. 
 Yonder stands a lonely tree,
 There I live and mourn for thee;
 Morning drinks my silent tear,
 And evening winds my sorrow bear.

He.
 O thou summer's harmony,
 I have liv'd and mourn'd for thee;
 Each day I mourn along the wood,
 And night hath heard my sorrows loud.

She.
 Dost thou truly long for me?
 And am I thus sweet to thee?
 Sorrow now is at an end,
 O my Lover and my Friend!

He.
 Come, on wings of joy we'll fly
 To where my bower hangs on high;
 Come, and make thy calm retreat
 Among green leaves and blossoms sweet.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

11. My spectre around me [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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My spectre around me night and day
Like a wild beast guards my way;
My Emanation far within
Weeps incessantly for my sin.


"A fathomless and boundless deep,
There we wander, there we weep;
On the hungry craving wind
My Spectre follows thee behind.

"He scents thy footsteps in the snow,
Wheresoever thou dost go,
Thro' the wintry hail and rain.
When wilt thou return again?

"Dost thou not in pride and scorn
Fill with tempests all my morn,
And with jealousies and fears
Fill my pleasant nights with tears?

"Seven of my sweet loves thy knife
Has bereaved of their life.
Their marble tombs I built with tears,
And with cold and shuddering fears.

"Seven more loves weep night and day 
Round the tombs where my loves lay,
And seven more loves attend each night
Around my couch with torches bright.

"And seven more loves in my bed
Crown with wine my mournful head,
Pitying and forgiving all
Thy transgressions great and small.

"When wilt thou return and view
My loves, and them to life renew?
When wilt thou return and live?
When wilt thou pity as I forgive?"

"O'er my sins thou sit and moan:
Hast thou no sins of thy own?
O'er my sins thou sit and weep,
And lull thy own sins fast asleep.

"What transgressions I commit
Are for thy transgressions fit.
They thy harlots, thou their slave;
And my bed becomes their grave.

"Never, never, I return:
Still for victory I burn.
Living, thee alone I'll have;
And when dead I'll be thy grave.

"Thro' the Heaven and Earth and Hell
Thou shalt never, never quell:
I will fly and thou pursue:
Night and morn the flight renew."

"Poor, pale, pitiable form
That I follow in a storm;
Iron tears and groans of lead
Bind around my aching head.

"Till I turn from Female love
And root up the Infernal Grove,
I shall never worthy be
To step into Eternity.

"And, to end thy cruel mocks,
Annihilate thee on the rocks,
And another form create
To be subservient to my fate.

"Let us agree to give up love,
And root up the Infernal Grove;
Then shall we return and see
The worlds of happy Eternity.

"And throughout all Eternity
I forgive you, you forgive me.
As our dear Redeemer said:
This the Wine, and this the Bread."


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

12. I heard an angel singing [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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I heard an Angel singing 
When the day was springing,
"Mercy, Pity, Peace
Is the world's release."
Thus he sung all day
Over the new mown hay,
Till the sun went down
And haycocks looked brown.
I heard a Devil curse
Over the heath and the furze,
"Mercy could be no more,
If there was nobody poor,
And pity no more could be,
If all were as happy as we."
At his curse the sun went down,
And the heavens gave a frown.
Down pour'd the heavy rain
Over the new reap'd grain ...
And Miseries' increase
Is Mercy, Pity, Peace.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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