Inscriptions

Song Cycle by Vivian Fine (1913 - 2000)

Word count: 676

1. One's self I sing [sung text checked 1 time]

One's-Self I sing -- a simple, [separate]1 Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.

Of Physiology from top to toe I sing;
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for the muse -- 
I say the Form complete is worthier far;
The Female equally with the male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful -- for freest action form'd, under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.

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1 Fine: "sep'rate"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Look down, fair moon [sung text checked 1 time]

Look down, fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with [their]1 arms toss'd wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.

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1 omitted by Rands.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. A child said, What is the grass? [sung text checked 1 time]

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? .... I do not know 
what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly [dropped]1,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

[ ... ]

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Fine: "dropt"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd [sung text checked 1 time]

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]2,
And thought of him I love.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (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"
2 Hartmann: "perennial, misery you give to us all,"

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

5. Inscription [sung text checked 1 time]

Small is the theme of the following Chant, 
yet the greatest—namely, One’s-Self — 
that wondrous thing a simple, [separate]1 person.
That, for the use of the New World, I sing.	

Man’s physiology complete, from top to toe, I sing. 
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, 
is worthy for the muse; — I say the Form complete is worthier far. 
The female equal with the male, I sing,
Nor cease at the theme of One’s-Self. 
I speak the word of the modern, the word En-Masse:
My Days I sing, and the Lands — 
with interstice I knew of hapless War.

O friend whoe’er you are, at last arriving hither to commence, 
I feel through every leaf 
the pressure of your hand, which I return. 
And thus upon our journey link'd together 
let us go.

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Note: line breaks have been added to this piece of prose.

Confirmed with Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. Philadelphia: David McKay, [c1900]; Bartleby.com, 1999. www.bartleby.com/142/315.html.

1 Fine: "sep'rate"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]