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When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd

Set by Roger Sessions (1896 - 1985), "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd", from the cantata When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd, no. 1. [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Note: this setting is made up of several separate texts.

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

[Ever-returning]1 spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

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

  • FRE French (Fran├žais) (Guy Laffaille) , "Quand les derniers lilas dans la petite cour fleurissaient", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Fine: "O Ever-returning"


Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd! O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!

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Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac-bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle ... and from this bush [in the door-yard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,]1
A sprig, with its flower, I break.

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1 omitted by Sessions


Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail

In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat!
Death's outlet song of life -- (for well, dear brother, I know
If thou wast not [gifted]1 to sing, thou would'st surely die.)

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1 Hindemith, Sessions: "granted"


Submitted by Ahmed E. Ismail