Keats Songs

Song Cycle by Scott Gendel (b. 1977)

Word count: 3508

1. A valentine [sung text checked 1 time]

Had I a man’s fair form, then might my sighs 
Be echoed swiftly through that ivory shell 
Thine ear, and find thy gentle heart; so well 
Would passion arm me for the enterprise; 
But ah! I am no knight whose foeman dies; 
No cuirass glistens on my bosom’s swell; 
I am no happy shepherd of the dell 
Whose lips have trembled with a maiden’s eyes. 
Yet must I dote upon thee—call thee sweet, 
Sweeter by far than Hybla’s honied roses 
When steep’d in dew rich to intoxication. 
Ah! I will taste that dew, for me ‘tis meet, 
And when the moon her pallid face discloses, 
I’ll gather some by spells, and incantation. 

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. To sleep [sung text checked 1 time]

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
  Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
  Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
  In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the "Amen" ere thy poppy throws
  Around my bed its lulling charities.
  Then save me, or the passèd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes, -
  Save me from curious Conscience, that still [lords]1
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like [a]2 mole;
  Turn the key deftly in the oilèd wards,
And seal the hushèd Casket of my Soul.

Authorship

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Jean-Pierre Granger) , "Sonnet", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • NYN Norwegian (Nynorsk) (Are Frode Søholt) , "Sonnette", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Pablo Sabat) , "Soneto"

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in a Plymouth newspaper in 1838
1 changed to "hoards" by Richard Woodhouse, and kept by Keats in the second transcription. Chávez uses this version.
2 changed to "the" in Keats' second transcription. Chávez uses this as well.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Daisy's song [sung text checked 1 time]

The sun, with his great eye, 
Sees not so much as I ; 
And the moon, all silver, proud, 
Might as well be in a cloud. 

And the spring -- the spring ! 
I lead the life of a king ! 
Couch'd in the teeming grass, 
I spy each pretty lass. 

I look where no one dares, 
And I stare where no one stares, 
And when the night is nigh, 
Lambs bleat my lullaby. 

Authorship

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. A vision [sung text checked 1 time]

Time's sea hath been five years at its low ebb,
Long hours have to and fro let creep the sand,
Since I was tangled in thy beauty's web,
And snared by the ungloving of thine hand.
And yet I never look on midnight sky,
But I behold thine eyes' well-memoried light;
I cannot look upon the rose's dye,
But to thy cheek my soul doth take its flight;
I cannot look on any budding flower,
But my fond ear, in fancy at thy lips,
And hearkening for a love-sound, doth devour
Its sweets in the wrong sense: -- Thou dost eclipse
Every delight with sweet remembering,
And grief unto my darling joys dost bring.

Authorship

Confirmed with The poetical works of John Keats, New York, James Miller, copyright 1871.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. One day [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]
Stop and consider! life is but a day; A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way From a tree’s summit; a poor Indian’s sleep While his boat hastens to the monstrous steep Of Montmorenci. Why so sad a moan? Life is the rose’s hope while yet unblown; The reading of an ever-changing tale; The light uplifting of a maiden’s veil; A pigeon tumbling in clear summer air; A laughing school-boy, without grief or care, Riding the springy branches of an elm. 1
[ ... ]

Authorship

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Què és més suau que l’oreig a l’estiu?", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Jean-Pierre Granger)

View original text (without footnotes)
The poem is headed by a quote from Chaucer:
«As I lay in my bed slepe full unmete 
Was unto me, but why that I ne might 
Rest I ne wist, for there n’as erthly wight 
[As I suppose] had more of hertis ese 
Than I, for I n’ad sicknesse nor disese.»
1 Gendel finishes his setting with a line from later in the poem: "Could all this be forgotten?"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]