Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson

Song Cycle by Aaron Copland (1900 - 1990)

Word count: 1097

French (Français) translation: Douze poèmes d'Emily Dickinson ( Guy Laffaille)
Italian (Italiano) translation: Dodici poesie di Emily Dickinson ( Ferdinando Albeggiani)
German (Deutsch) translation: Zwölf Gedichte von Emily Dickinson ( Bertram Kottmann)
Catalan (Català) translation: Dotze poemes d’Emily Dickinson ( Salvador Pila)

1. Nature, the gentlest mother [sung text checked 1 time]

Nature, the gentlest mother
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest, -
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon, -
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky,

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Natura, la mare més gentil ", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Nature, mère la plus gentille", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

2. There came a wind like a bugle [sung text checked 1 time]

There came a wind like a bugle,
It quivered through the grass,
And a green chill upon the heat
So ominous did pass

We barred the windows and the doors
As from an emerald ghost
The doom's electric moccasin
That very instant passed.

On a strange mob of panting trees,
And fences fled away,
And rivers where the houses ran
The living looked that day,

The bell within the steeple wild,
The flying tidings whirled.
How much can come and much can go,
And yet abide the world!

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Vingué un vent com un clarí", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Alors vint un vent comme un clairon", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Why do they shut me out of Heaven? [sung text checked 1 time]

Why -- do they shut me out of Heaven?
Did I sing -- too loud?
But -- I can sing a little minor,
Timid as a bird.

Wouldn't the angels try me -- 
just -- once -- more --
Just -- see -- if I troubled them --
But don't -- shut the door!

Oh if I -- were the Gentlemen 
in the White [Robe]1
and they -- were the little Hand -- that knocked --
Could -- I -- forbid?

Why do they shut me out of Heaven?
Did I sing too loud?

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Per què m’han tancat les portes del cel?", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Pourquoi m'ont-ils fermé la porte du ciel", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Copland: "Robes"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The world feels dusty [sung text checked 1 time]

The world feels dusty,
when we stop to die...
We want the dew then
Honors taste dry...

Flags vex a dying face
But the least fan
stirred by a friend's hand
Cools like the rain

Mine be the ministry
when thy thirst comes...
Dews of thyself to fetch 
and holy balms.

Authorship

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El món té gust de pols", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • CHI Chinese (中文) (Yen-Chiang Che) , "這世界感到灰黯", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le monde se sent poussiéreux", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

This version was published many times, including in the Atlantic Monthly (Volume 143, 1929), before the more authoritative versions came out with the more characteristic punctuation. There are also a few changes to the words in the last stanza. See below.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Heart, we will forget him [sung text checked 1 time]

Heart, we will forget him
You and I, tonight.
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me,
That I [my thoughts may dim]1;
Haste! lest while you're lagging,
I may remember him!

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Cor, l’oblidarem", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Mon cœur, nous l'oublierons", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 another version (Dickinson): "may straight begin"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Dear March, come in! [sung text checked 1 time]

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat -
You must have walked -
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell!

I got your letter, and the bird's;
The maples never knew
That you were coming, - I declare,
How red their faces grew!
But, March, forgive me -
And all those hills
You left for me to hue,
There was no purple suitable,
You took it all with you.

Who knocks? that April?
Lock the door!
I will not be pursued!
He stayed away a year, to call
When I am occupied.
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come,
[That]1 blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.

Authorship

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Març estimat, entra!", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Cher Mars, entre!", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Copland: "And"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. Sleep is supposed to be [sung text checked 1 time]

Sleep is supposed to be,
By souls of sanity,
The shutting of the eye.

Sleep is the station grand
Down which on either hand
The hosts of witness stand!

Morn is supposed to be,
By people of degree,
The breaking of the day.

Morning has not occurred!
That shall aurora be
East of Eternity;

One with the banner gay,
One in the red array, -
That is the break of day.

Authorship

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "La son se suposa que és", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le sommeil est supposé être", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. When they come back [sung text checked 1 time]

When they come back -- if Blossoms do --
I always feel a doubt
If Blossoms can be born again
When once the Art is out --

When they begin, if Robins [may]1,
I always had a fear
I did not tell, it was their last Experiment
Last Year,

When it is May, if May return,
[Had]2 nobody a pang
Lest [in]3 a Face so beautiful
[He]4 might not look again?

If I am there -- One does not know
What Party -- One may be
Tomorrow, but if I am there
I take back all I say --

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Quan elles retornin", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Quand elles reviennent, si les fleurs reviennent", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Copland: "do"
2 Coulthard: "Hath", Copland: "Has"
3 Coulthard, Copland: "on"
4 Copland: "We"

Researcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

9. I felt a funeral in my brain [sung text checked 1 time]

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of [lead]1.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.

[ ... ]

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Vaig sentir un funeral al meu cap", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "J'ai senti un enterrement dans ma tête", copyright © 2008, (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) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Copland: "lead, again"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. I've heard an organ talk sometimes [sung text checked 1 time]

I've heard an organ talk sometimes
In a cathedral aisle
And understood no word it said
Yet held my breath the while...

And risen up and gone away,
A more Bernardine girl
And know not what was done to me
In that old hallowed aisle.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "De vegades he sentit un orgue parlar", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "J'ai entendu parfois un orgue parler", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

11. Going to Heaven! [sung text checked 1 time]

Going to Heaven!
I don't know when,
Pray do not ask me how, -
Indeed I'm too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to Heaven! -
How dim it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the shepherd's arm!

Perhaps you're going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first
Save just a little place for me
Close to the two I lost!
The smallest "robe" will fit me,
And just a bit of "crown";
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home. 

1 I'm glad I don't believe it
For it would stop my breath,
And I'd like to look a little more
At such a curious earth!
I am glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the mighty autumn afternoon
I left them in the ground.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Me’n vaig al cel!", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Je monte au ciel !", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Copland adds here "Going to Heaven!"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

12. The chariot [sung text checked 1 time]

Because I [could]1 not stop for Death --
He kindly stopped for me --
The carriage held but just ourselves --
and Immortality.

We slowly drove -- he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too
For His Civility --

We passed the school, where children played,
[ At wrestling in a ring]2
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
a swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "La voiture", copyright © 2008, (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) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "La carrozza", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Copland, Kagen: "would"
2 Copland: "Their lessons scarcely done"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]