Songs of Innocence

Song Cycle by Anthony Strilko (b. 1931)

Word count: 868

1. Introd. [sung text not yet checked]

Piping down the valleys wild,
  Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
  And he laughing said to me:

"Pipe a song about a lamb."
  So I piped with merry chear.
"Piper, pipe that song again."
  So I piped: he wept to hear.

"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
  Sing thy songs of happy chear."
So I sang the same again,
  While he wept with joy to hear.

"Piper, sit thee down and write
  In a book, that all may read."
So he vanished from my sight;
  And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
  And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
  Every child may joy to hear.

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

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

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

2. The echoing green [sung text not yet checked]

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells' cheerful sound;
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green. 

Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say,
"Such, such were the joys
When we all--girls and boys -
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing green."

Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry:
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green.

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Lidy van Noordenburg) , "Het weerkaatsend groen", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The blossom [sung text not yet checked]

Merry, merry sparrow!
Under leaves so green
A happy blossom
Sees you, swift as arrow,
Seek your cradle narrow,
Near my bosom.

Pretty, pretty robin!
Under leaves so green
A happy blossom
Hears you sobbing, sobbing,
Pretty, pretty robin,
Near my bosom.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The little black boy [sung text not yet checked]

My mother bore me in the southern wild, 
  And I am black, but O! my soul is white!
White as an angel is the English child, 
  But I am black, as if bereaved of light. 

My mother taught me underneath a tree, 
  And, sitting down before the heat of day, 
She took me on her lap and kissèd me, 
  And, pointing to the East, began to say: 

"Look [at]2 the rising sun: there God does live, 
  And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive 
  Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday. 

"And we are put on earth a little space, 
  That we may learn to bear the beams of love; 
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face 
  [Are]1 but a cloud, and like a shady grove. 

"For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, 
  The cloud will vanish; we shall hear His voice, 
Saying: `Come out from the grove, my love and care,
  And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' " 

Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me;
  And thus I say to little English boy: 
When I from black and he from white cloud free, 
  And round the tent of God like lambs we joy, 

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear 
  To lean in joy upon our Father's knee; 
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, 
  And be like him, and he will then love me.

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1 Bolcom: "Is"
2 Bolcom, Cowell: "on"

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

5. The shepherd [sung text not yet checked]

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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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

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Cooke: "when"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

6. Laughing song [sung text not yet checked]

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it; 

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing "Ha ha he!"

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of "Ha ha he!"

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Песня смеха", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The little boy lost [sung text not yet checked]

``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.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

8. The little boy found [sung text not yet checked]

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand'ring light,
Began to cry; but God, ever nigh,
Appear'd like his father, in white.

He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
And to his mother brought,
Who in sorrow pale, thro' the lonely dale,
Her little boy weeping sought.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. Infant Joy [sung text not yet checked]

"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!
Sweet Joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while,
Sweet joy befall thee!

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Дитя-радость", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]