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To a poet

Word count: 548

Song Cycle by Gerald Finzi (1901 - 1956)

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1. To a poet a thousand years hence


I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Maeonides the blind
said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.


2. On parent knees


On parent knees, a naked new-born child,
Weeping thou sat'st, while all around thee [smiled]1:
So live, that sinking to thy [last long]2 sleep,
Calm thou may'st smile, [while]3 all around thee weep.


View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with Bartlett, John, comp. Familiar Quotations, 10th ed, rev. and enl. by Nathan Haskell Dole. Boston: Little, Brown, 1919; Bartleby.com, 2000. www.bartleby.com/100/303.html

1 Fine, Finzi: "smil'd"
2 Fine, Finzi: "life's last"
3 Fine: "whilst"

3. Intrada


An empty book is like an Infant's Soul, in which
anything may be written; it is capable of all things
but containeth nothing. I have a mind to fill this
with profitable wonders, and with those things which shall
shew my Love. Things strange yet common, most high,
yet plain: infinitely profitable, but not esteemed;
Truths you love, but know not.


4. The birthnight


Dearest, it was a night
That in its darkness racked Orion's stars;
A sighing wind ran faintly white
Along the willows, and the cedar boughs
Laid their wide hands in stealthy peace across
The starry silence of their antique moss:
No sound save rushing air
Cold, yet all sweet with Spring,
And in thy mother's arms, couched weeping there,
Thou, lovely thing.


5. June on Castle Hill


On its grassy brow
 [ ... ]


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6. Ode on the rejection of St. Cecilia


Rise, underground sleepers, rise from the grave
 [ ... ]


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