Six Blake Songs

Song Cycle by Nigel Henry Butterley (1935 - 2022)

1. To Tirzah [sung text not yet checked]

Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free:
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blowd in the morn; in evening died
But Mercy changed Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part.
With cruelty didst mould my Heart.
And with false self-deceiving tears.
Didst blind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free.
Then what have I to do with thee?

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. To my myrtle tree [sung text not yet checked]

Why should I be bound to thee,
O my lovely Myrtle-tree?
Love, free Love, cannot be bound
To any tree that grows on ground.

O! how sick and weary I
Underneath my Myrtle lie;
Like to dung upon the ground,
Underneath my Myrtle bound.

Oft my Myrtle sigh'd in vain
To behold my heavy chain:
Oft my Father saw us sigh,
And laugh'd at our simplicity.

So I smote him, and his gore
Stain'd the roots my Myrtle bore.
But the time of youth is fled,
And grey hairs are on my head.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The land of dreams [sung text not yet checked]

Awake, awake my little boy, 
thou wast thy mother's only joy. 
Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep? 
Awake, thy father does thee keep. 
Oh, what land is the land of dreams? 
What are its mountains and what are its streams? 
O father, I saw my mother there, 
among the lilies by waters fair. 
Among the lambs clothed in white, 
she walked with her Thomas in sweet delight. 
I wept for joy; like a dove I mourn. 
Oh, when shall I again return? 
Dear child, I also by pleasand streams 
have wandered all night in the land of dreams; 
but though calm and warm the waters wide, 
I could not get to the other side? 
Father, O father, what do we here, 
in this land of unbelief and fear? 
The land of dreams is better far -- 
above the light of the morning star.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The shepherd [sung text not yet checked]

How sweet is the Shepherd's sweet lot!
   From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
   And his tongue shall be fillèd with praise.

For he hears the lamb's innocent call,
   And he hears the ewe's tender reply;
He is watchful [while]1 they are in peace,
   For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "El pastor", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Cooke: "when"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

5. To the Evening Star [sung text not yet checked]

Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
Smile on our loves, and while thou drawest the
Blue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dew
On every flower that shuts its sweet eyes
In timely sleep. Let thy west wing sleep on
The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes,
And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon,
Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide,
And the lion glares through the dun forest.
The fleeces of our flocks are covered with
Thy sacred dew; protect with them with thine influence.

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

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Vrchlický) , "Večernici"
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Dem Abendstern", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Love and harmony combine [sung text not yet checked]

Love and harmony combine
And around our souls  intwine
While thy branches mix with mine,
And our roots together join.

Joys upon our branches sit,
Chirping loud, and singing sweet;
Like gentle streams beneath our feet
Innocence and virtue meet.

Thou the golden fruit dost bear,
I am clad in flowers fair;
Thy sweet boughs perfume the air,
And the turtle buildeth there

There she sits and feeds her young,
Sweet I hear her mournful song;
And thy lovely leaves among
There is love:  I hear his tongue

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Researcher for this text: Victoria Brago
Total word count: 606