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Song Cycle : On Children

Word count: 877

Song Cycle by Rudolph T. Werther (1896 - 1986)

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1. Piper's song [ 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) , "Вступление", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


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.


Submitted by Ted Perry

1. A child sleepeth [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

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How he sleepeth! [ having drunken
            Weary childhood's mandragore,
        From his pretty eyes have sunken
            Pleasures, to make room for more---
Sleeping near the withered nosegay, which he pulled the day before.

        Nosegays! leave them for the waking:
            Throw them earthward where they grew.
        Dim are such, beside the breaking
            Amaranths he looks unto---
Folded eyes see brighter colours than the open ever do.

        Heaven-flowers, rayed by shadows golden
            From the paths they sprang beneath,
        Now perhaps divinely holden,
            Swing against him in a wreath---
We may think so from the quickening of his bloom and of his breath. ]1

        Vision unto vision calleth,
            While the young child dreameth on.
        Fair, O dreamer, thee befalleth
            With the glory thou hast won!
Darker wert thou in the garden, yestermorn, by summer sun.

        We should see the spirits [ringing]2
            Round thee, -- were the clouds away.
        'Tis the child-heart draws them, singing
            In the silent-seeming clay --
Singing! -- Stars that seem the mutest, go in music all the way.

      [  As the moths around a taper,
            As the bees around a rose,
        As the gnats around a vapour,---
            So the Spirits group and close
Round about a holy childhood, as if drinking its repose.

        Shapes of brightness overlean thee,---
            Flash their diadems of youth
        On the ringlets which half screen thee,---
            While thou smilest, . . . not in sooth
Thy smile . . . but the overfair one, dropt from some aethereal mouth.

        Haply it is angels' duty,
            During slumber, shade by shade:
        To fine down this childish beauty
            To the thing it must be made,
Ere the world shall bring it praises, or the tomb shall see it fade.]1

        Softly, softly! make no noises!
            Now he lieth [dead]3 and dumb --
        Now he hears the angels' voices
            Folding silence in the room --
Now he muses deep the meaning of the Heaven-words as they come.

[         Speak not! he is consecrated --
            Breathe no breath across his eyes.
        Lifted up and separated,
            On the hand of God he lies,
In a sweetness beyond touching -- held in cloistral sanctities.

        Could ye bless him -- father -- mother ?
            Bless the dimple in his cheek?
        Dare ye look at one another,
            And the benediction speak?
Would ye not break out in weeping, and confess yourselves too weak? ]1

        He is harmless -- [ye]4 are sinful, --
            [Ye]4 are troubled -- he, at ease:
        From his slumber, virtue winful
            Floweth outward with increase --
Dare not bless him! but be blessed by his peace -- and go in peace.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Elgar
2 Elgar: "rising"
3 Elgar: "still"
4 Elgar: "we"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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 and found

Note: this is a multi-text setting

``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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Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

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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Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Song

Language: English

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[--- This text is not currently
in the database but will be added
as soon as we obtain it. ---]

6. Cradle song [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): GER WEL

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming o'er the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep, in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel, 
Smiles as of the morning steal 
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast 
Where thy little heart does rest.

O! the cunning wiles that creep 
In thy little heart asleep. 
When thy little heart does wake 
Then the dreadful lightnings break, 

From thy cheek and from thy eye, 
O'er the youthful harvests nigh. 
Infant wiles and infant smiles 
Heaven and Earth of peace beguiles.


Submitted by Geoffrey Wieting

7. Dream [ 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) , "Сон", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Once a dream did weave a shade
O'er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
Where on grass methought I lay.

Troubled, wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangle spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:

"Oh my children! do they cry,
Do they hear their father sigh?
Now they look abroad to see,
Now return and weep for me."

Pitying, I dropped a tear:
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, "What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?

"I am set to light the ground,
While the beetle goes his round:
Follow now the beetle's hum;
Little wanderer, hie thee home!"


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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