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Seven Songs of William Blake, Set II

Word count: 539

Song Cycle by Gary Michael Higginson (b. 1952)

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1. The voice of wisdom and Earth's answer

Note: this is a multi-text setting

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, and Future see;
Whose ears have heard
the Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees,

Calling the lapsed Soul 
And weeping in the evening dew
That might control
the starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

"O earth, O earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn, 
and [the morn]1
rises from the slumbering mass.

"Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
the watery shore,
Is given thee till break of day."

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Mitchell: morning


Submitted by Victoria Brago

Earth rais'd up her head
From the darkness dread and drear.
Her light fled,
Stony dread!
And her locks cover'd with grey despair.

"Prison'd on wat'ry shore,
Starry Jealousy does keep my den:
Cold and hoar,
Weeping o'er,
I hear the Father of the Ancient Men.

"Selfish Father of Men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish Fear!
Can delight,
Chain'd in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?

"Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?

"Break this heavy chain
That does freeze my bones around.
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!
That free Love with bondage bound."

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Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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

Language: English

Translation(s): CAT

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El pastor", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


How sweet is the Shepherd's sweet lot!
   From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
   And his tongue shall be fillèd with praise.

For he hears the lamb's innocent call,
   And he hears the ewe's tender reply;
He is watchful [while]1 they are in peace,
   For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.


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1 Cooke: "when"

Submitted by Ted Perry

3. Nurse's song [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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When the voices of children are heard on the green 
And laughing is heard on the hill, 
My heart is at rest within my breast 
And everything else is still. 

"Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down 
And the dews of night arise; 
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away 
Till the morning appears in the skies." 

"No, no, let us play, for it is yet day 
And we cannot go to sleep; 
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly 
And the hills are all cover'd with sheep." 

"Well, well, go & play till the light fades away 
And then go home to bed." 
The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh'd 
And all the hills echoed.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Little boy lost [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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``Father! father! where are you going? 
O do not walk so fast. 
Speak, father, speak to your little boy, 
Or else I shall be lost.'' 

The night was dark, no father was there; 
The child was wet with dew; 
The mire was deep, & the child did weep, 
And away the vapour flew.


Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

5. Little fly [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER RUS

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "La mouche", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Мотылёк", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand 
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath
And the want 
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Tyger, tyger [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): CAT FRE GER GER RUS

List of language codes

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El tigre", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le tigre", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Der Tiger", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , "Der Tiger", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Тигр", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,  
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?  

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?  
On what wings dare he aspire?  
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?  

What the hammer? what the chain,  
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!  

When the stars threw down their spears  
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:  
What immortal hand or eye,  
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The voice of the ancient bard [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, and Future see;
Whose ears have heard
the Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees,

Calling the lapsed Soul 
And weeping in the evening dew
That might control
the starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

"O earth, O earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn, 
and [the morn]1
rises from the slumbering mass.

"Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
the watery shore,
Is given thee till break of day."


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Mitchell: morning

Submitted by Victoria Brago

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