The ten hours' light is abating, And a late bird wings across, Where the pines, like waltzers waiting, Give their black heads a toss. Beech leaves, that yellow the noon-time, Float past like specks in the eye; I set every tree in my June time, And now they obscure the sky. And the children who ramble through here Conceive that there never has been A time when no tall trees grew here, That none will in time be seen.
Song Cycle by (Edward) Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976)
French (Français) translation: Mots d'hiver
1. At day-close in November  [sung text checked 1 time]
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "At Day-Close in November", appears in Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries with Miscellaneous Pieces, first published 1914 [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]
See other settings of this text.
Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):
- GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Novembertages Ende", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
2. Midnight on the Great Western  [sung text checked 1 time]
In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy, And the roof-lamp's oily flame Played down on his listless form and face, Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going, Or whence he came. In the band of his hat the journeying boy Had a ticket stuck; and a string Around his neck bore the key of his box, That twinkled gleams of the lamp's sad beams Like a living thing. What past can be yours, O journeying boy Towards a world unknown, Who calmly, as if incurious quite On all at stake, can undertake This plunge alone? Knows your soul a sphere, O journeying boy, Our rude realms far above, Whence with spacious vision you mark and mete This region of sin that you find you in, But are not of?
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "Midnight on the Great Western", appears in Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses, first published 1917 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
See other settings of this text.Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
3. Wagtail and Baby  [sung text checked 1 time]
A baby watched a ford, whereto A wagtail came for drinking; A blaring bull went wading through, The wagtail showed no shrinking. A stallion splashed his way across, The birdie nearly sinking; He gave his plumes a twitch and toss, And held his own unblinking. Next saw the baby round the spot A mongrel slowly slinking; The wagtail gazed, but faltered not In dip and sip and prinking. A perfect gentleman then neared; The wagtail, in a winking, With terror rose and disappeared; The baby fell a-thinking.
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "Wagtail and Baby" [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
4. The little old table  [sung text checked 1 time]
Creak, little wood thing, creak, When I touch you with elbow or knee; That is the way you speak Of one who gave you to me! You, little table, she brought - Brought me with her own hand, As she looked at me with a thought That I did not understand. - Whoever owns it anon, And hears it, will never know What a history hangs upon This creak from long ago.
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "The Little Old Table", appears in Late Lyrics and Earlier with Many Other Verses, first published 1922 [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]
5. The choirmaster's burial  [sung text checked 1 time]
He often would ask us That, when he died, After playing so many To their last rest, If out of us any Should here abide, And it would not task us, We would with our lutes Play over him By his grave-brim The psalm he liked best - The one whose sense suits "Mount Ephraim" - And perhaps we should seem To him, in Death's dream, Like the seraphim. As soon as I knew That his spirit was gone I thoguht this his due, And spoke thereupon. "I think," said the vicar, "A read service quicker Than viols out-of-doors In these frosts and hoars. That old-fashioned way Requires a fine day, And it seems to me It had better not be." Hence, that afternoon, Though never knew he That his wish could not be, To get through it faster They buried the master Without any tune. But 'twas said that, when At the dead of next night The vicar looked out, There struck on his ken Thronged roundabout, Where the frost was graying The headstoned grass, A band all in white Like the saints in church-glass, Singing and playing The ancient stave By the choirmaster's grave. Such the tenor man told When he had grown old.
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "The Choirmaster's Burial", appears in Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses, first published 1917 [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]
6. Proud songsters  [sung text checked 1 time]
The thrushes sing as the sun is going, And the finches whistle in ones and pairs, And as it gets dark loud nightingales In bushes Pipe, as they can when April wears, As if all Time were theirs. These are brand-new birds of twelve-months' growing, Which a year ago, or less than twain, No finches were, nor nightingales, Nor thrushes, But only particles of grain, And earth, and air, and rain.
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "Proud songsters" [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
See other settings of this text.First published in Daily Telegraph, April 1928
Researcher for this text: Ted Perry
7. At the railway station, Upway  [sung text checked 1 time]
"There is not much that I can do, For I've no money that's quite my own!" Spoke up the pitying child - A little boy with a violin At the station before the train came in, - "But I can play my fiddle to you, And a nice one 'tis, and good in tone!" The man in the handcuffs smiled; The constable looked, and he smiled, too, As the fiddle began to twang; And the man in the handcuffs suddenly sang With grimful glee: "This life so free Is the thing for me!" And the constable smiled, and said no word, As if unconscious of what he heard; And so they went on till the train came in - The convict, and boy with the violin.
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "At the Railway Station, Upway", appears in Late Lyrics and Earlier with Many Other Verses, first published 1922 [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]
8. Before life and after  [sung text checked 1 time]
A time there was - as one may guess And as, indeed, earth's testimonies tell - Before the birth of consciousness, When all went well. None suffered sickness, love, or loss, None knew regret, starved hope, or heart-burnings; None cared whatever crash or cross Brought wrack to things. If something ceased, no tongue bewailed, If something winced and waned, no heart was wrung; If brightness dimmed, and dark prevailed, No sense was stung. But the disease of feeling germed, And primal rightness took the tinct of wrong; Ere nescience shall be reaffirmed How long, how long?
- by Thomas Hardy (1840 - 1928), "Before Life and After", appears in Time's Laughingstocks and Other Verses, first published 1909 [author's text not yet checked against a primary source]