Songs of Love and War

Song Cycle by Vivian Fine (1913 - 2000)

1. 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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Confirmed with Drum-Taps, ed. by Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, The Walt Whitman Archive

1 omitted by Rands.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Joost van der Linden [Guest Editor]

2. Stabat mater [sung text checked 1 time]

The grieving mother stood on the square
 [ ... ]


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3. The Song of Songs [sung text checked 1 time]

The flow'rs appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

I will rise now, 
and go about the city in the streets,
and in the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loveth;
I sought him, but I found him not.

The watchmen that go about the city found me:
to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

It was but a little that I passed from them,
but I found him, whom my soul loveth;
I held him, and would not let him go,
until I had brought him into my mother's house,
and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

I charge you, o ye daughters of Jerusalem,
by the roes, and by the hinds of the field,
that ye stir not up, not awake my love,
till he please.

My beloved is mine, and I am his:
he feedeth among the lilies.


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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. My Triumph lasted till the drums [sung text checked 1 time]

My Triumph lasted till the Drums
Had left the Dead alone
And then I dropped my Victory
And chastened stole along
To where the finished Faces
Conclusion turned on me
And then I hated Glory
And wished myself were They.

What is to be is best descried
When it has also been --
Could Prospect taste of Retrospect
The tyrannies of Men
Were Tenderer -- diviner
The Transitive toward.
A Bayonet's contrition
Is nothing to the Dead.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Reconciliation [sung text checked 1 time]

Word over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage,/
   must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, /
   incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:
...For my enemy is dead -- a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin -- I draw near;
[I bend]1 down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.


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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Réconciliation", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Rorem: "Bend down"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Total word count: 482