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15 Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson

Word count: 673

Song Cycle by Gloria Coates (b. 1938)

French (Français) translation: 15 chants sur des poèmes d'Emily Dickinson (Guy Laffaille)
German (Deutsch) translation: Fünfzehn Lieder auf Gedichte von Emily Dickinson (Bertram Kottmann)

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1. After great pain [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , no title, copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions 'was it He, that bore,'
And 'Yesterday, or Centuries before'?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –


Confirmed with THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: READING EDITION, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998, 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Bertram Kottmann

2. I held a jewel in my fingers [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: "'T will keep."

I woke and chid my honest fingers, -
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Wild nights! Wild nights! [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): CHI FRE GER GER ITA

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  • CHI Chinese (中文) (Mei Foong Ang) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Sturmnacht! - Sturmnacht!", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Notti selvagge! Notti di tempesta!", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Wild nights! -- Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile -- the [Wind]1 --
To a heart in port, --
Done with the Compass, --
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden --
Ah! the Sea!
Might I but moor -- Tonight --
In thee!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 note: sometimes "Winds". Hoiby, Rusche, A. Thomas: "Winds"


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Mine by the right of the white election [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Mine by the right of the white election!
Mine by the royal seal!
Mine by the sign in the scarlet prison
Bars cannot conceal!

Mine, here in vision and in veto!
Mine, by the grave's repeal
Titled, confirmed, - delirious charter!
Mine, while the ages steal!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. A word is dead [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER ITA

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Una parola è morta", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live - that day.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. I'm nobody [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER GER ITA

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , "Ich bin ein Niemand! Wer bist Du?", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Io non sono nessuno, e tu?", copyright © 2006, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd [banish us]1, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell [your]2 name the livelong [day]3
To an admiring bog!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bacon, G. Coates: "advertise"
2 Bacon, G. Coates: "one's
3 Bacon, G. Coates: "June"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. Vitality begun [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER ITA

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Una raffica di morte", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


A death blow is a life blow to some,
Who till they died, did not alive become.
Who had they lived, had died but when
They died, vitality begun.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Bride of the Holy Ghost [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Given in marriage unto Thee
Oh thou celestial host,
Bride of the Father and the Son
Bride of the Holy Ghost.
Other betrothal shall dissolve
Wedlock of will, decay,
Only the keeper of this ring
conquer mortality.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. In falling timbers buried [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


In falling timbers buried
There breathed a man.
Outside the spades were plying,
The lungs within.

Could he know they sought him,
Could they know he breathed,
Horrid sand partition,
Neither could be heard.

Never slacked the diggers,
But when spades had done,
Oh reward of anguish,
It was dying then.

Many things are fruitless,
'Tis a baffling earth,
But there is no gratitude
Like the Grace of death.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. On the death of a child [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Auf eines Kindes Tod", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Now I lay thee down to sleep,
I pray the Lord thy dust to keep,
and if thou live before thou wake,
I pray the Lord thy soul to make.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

11. Armistice [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


They dropped like flakes,
They dropped like stars,
Like petals from a rose,
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers goes.

They perished in the seamless grass
No eye could find the place,
But God can summon every face
Of His repealless list.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

12. Bind me - I still can sing [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Fessle mich - kann dennoch singen", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Bind me -- I still can sing
Banish -- my mandolin
Strikes true within --.

Slay -- and my Soul shall rise
Chanting to Paradise --
Still thine.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

13. I've seen a dying eye [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER ITA

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


I've seen a dying eye
Run round and round a room
In search of something, as it seemed,
Then cloudier become;
And then, obscure with fog,
And then be soldered down,
Without disclosing what it be,
’T were blessed to have seen.


Confirmed with Dickinson, Emily, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Boston: Little, Brown, 1924; Bartleby.com, 2000. www.bartleby.com/113/4015.html


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

14. If I can stop one heart from breaking [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER ITA

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If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

15. Will there really be a morning? [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Will there really be a morning?
Is there such a thing as day?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like water-lilies?
Has it feathers like a bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Oh, some scholar! Oh, some sailor!
Oh, some wise man from the skies!
Please to tell a little pilgrim
Where the place called morning lies!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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