Evidence of Things Not Seen

Song Cycle by Ned Rorem (b. 1923)

Word count: 3895

1. From whence cometh song [sung text checked 1 time]

From whence cometh song?
 [ ... ]

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1 Hagen: "its"

2. The Open Road [sung text checked 1 time]

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune -- I myself am good fortune;
[Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.]1

[ ... ]

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1 omitted by Rorem.

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

3. O where are you going [sung text checked 1 time]

O where are you going? said reader to rider
 [ ... ]

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4. The Rainbow [sung text checked 1 time]

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Mein Herz hüpft auf", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Note: Quoted by Ogden Nash in Song to be sung by the father of infant female children

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. How Do I Love Thee [sung text not yet checked]

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as [they]1 turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I [seemed]2 to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

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

  • CHI Chinese (中文) (M.W. Wang) , "我有多麽愛你?", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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See also Karl Shapiro's parody How do I love you?
1 Steele: "men"
2 Steele: "seem"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Life in a love [sung text checked 1 time]

     Escape me?
     Never -
     Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
  So long as the world contains us both,
  Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear -
  It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
  Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed -
But what if I fail of my purpose here?

It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
  To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And baffled, get up to begin again, -
  So the chase takes up one's life, that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound,
  At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope drops to ground
  Than a new one, straight to the selfsame mark,
     I shape me -
     Ever
     Removed!

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

7. Their Lonely Betters [sung text checked 1 time]

As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
 [ ... ]

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8. His Beauty Sparkles [sung text checked 1 time]

His beauty sparkles, his big eyes blaze
 [ ... ]

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9. Boy with a Baseball Glove [sung text checked 1 time]

See now the beauty with the glove
 [ ... ]

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10. A glimpse [sung text checked 1 time]

[A glimpse, through an interstice caught,]1
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, 
around the stove, late of a winter night -- 
And I unremark'd seated in a corner;	 
Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, 
silently approaching, and seating himself near, 
that he may hold me by the hand;
A long while, amid the noises of coming and going -- 
[of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, 
speaking little, perhaps not a word.

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Portions of this text were used in Idyll by Frederick Delius.

1 Rorem: "One fitting glimpse caught through an interstice"

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

11. I am he . . . [sung text checked 1 time]

I am he that aches with amorous love;
Does the earth gravitate? Does not all matter, aching, attract all matter?
So the Body of me, to all I meet, or know.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

12. Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]

Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
[ ... ]

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13. The more loving one [sung text checked 1 time]

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
 [ ... ]

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14. Hymn for Morning [sung text checked 1 time]

Wake my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay this morning sacrifice.
Redeem thy misspent moments past
And live this day as if the last;
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.
Let all thy converse be sincere,
Thy conscience as the noon-day clear;
Think how all-seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.
Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praises to the eternal king.
Amen.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

15. I saw a mass of matter of a dull gloomy color [sung text checked 1 time]

. . . I saw a mass of matter of a dull gloomy color . . .
and was informed that this mass was human beings
in as great misery as they could be, and live,
and that I was mixed in with them,
and henceforth I might not consider myself 
as a distinct or separate being.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

16. The Comfort of Friends (O the rapes) [sung text checked 1 time]

O the rapes, fires, murders, and rivers of blood 
that lie at the doors of professed Christians! 
If this be godly, what's devilish? 
If this be Christian, what's paganism? 
What's anti-Christian but to make God a party to their wickedness?
Time past is none of thine? 
'Tis not what thou wast but what thou art. 
God will be daily looked into. 
Did'st thou eat yesterday? That feedeth thee not today.
They that love beyond the World, cannot be separated by it. 
Death cannot kill what never dies. 
Nor can spirits ever be divided 
that love and live in the same Divine Principle; 
the Root and Record of their Friendship.
This is the Comfort of Friends, 
that though they may be said to Die, 
yet their Friendship and Society are, in the best Sense, 
ever present, because Immortal.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

17. A dead statesman [sung text checked 1 time]

I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

18. The Candid Man [sung text checked 1 time]

Forth went the candid man
And spoke freely to the wind --
When he looked about him he was in a far
strange country.
Forth went the candid man
and spoke freely to the stars--
Yellow light tore sight from his eyes.
"My good fool," said a learned bystander,
"Your operations are mad."
"You are too candid," cried the candid man.
And when his stick left the head of the
learned bystander
It was two sticks.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

19. Comment on War [sung text checked 1 time]

Let us kill off youth
For the sake of truth.
We who are old know what truth is
Truth is a bundle of vicious lies
Tied together and sterilized
A war-makers bait for unwise youth
To kill off each other
For the sake of
Truth.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

20. A learned man [sung text checked 1 time]

A learned man came to me once.
He said, "I know the way--come."
And I was overjoyed at this.
Together we hastened.
Soon, too soon, were we
Where my eyes were useless,
And I knew not the ways of my feet.
I clung to the hand of my friend:
But at last he cried, "I am lost."

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

21. Dear, though the night is gone [sung text checked 1 time]

Dear, though the night is gone
 [ ... ]

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First published in New Verse, April-May 1936, revised 1936

22. Requiescat [sung text checked 1 time]

Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast.
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

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23. Is my team ploughing [sung text checked 1 time]

"Is my team ploughing,
That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was man alive?"

Ay, the horses trample,
The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plough.

"Is football playing
Along the river-shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
Now I stand up no more?"

Ay, the ball is flying,
The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
Stands up to keep the goal. 

"Is my girl happy,
That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
As she lies down at eve?"

Ay, she lies down lightly,
She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
Be still, my lad, and sleep.

"Is my friend hearty,
Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?"

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man's sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Patricia Dillard Eguchi) , "Mon attelage laboure-t-il ?", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • HEB Hebrew (עברית) (Max Mader) , "האם הצמד שלי חורש", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

24. As I Walked Out One Evening [sung text checked 1 time]

As I walked out one evening
 [ ... ]

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First published in New Statesman and Nation, January 1938

25. The sick wife [sung text checked 1 time]

The sick wife stayed in the car
 [ ... ]

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26. Now is the dreadful midnight [sung text checked 1 time]

Now is the dreadful midnight you
 [ ... ]

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27. Hymn for Evening [sung text checked 1 time]

All praise to thee, my God, this night
For the blessings of the light:
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath thine own almighty wings.
Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
The ill that I have done;
That with the world, myself, and thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace must be.
May my soul on thee repose
And with sleep mine eyelids close;
Sleep shall me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.
Amen.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

28. He thinks upon his death [sung text checked 1 time]

For the first time I thought of my own death
 [ ... ]

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29. On an echoing road [sung text checked 1 time]

On an echoing road, trotting in unison, 
now out of step, now as one again,
are two horses saddled together,
guided by a single hand. 
The needle and the pen, the habit of work
and the sly urge to quit the habit, make friends with each other,
then separate, then reconcile again....
O my slow steeds, pull now together;
from here I can see the end of the road.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

30. A terrible disaster [sung text checked 1 time]

A terrible disaster befell me
 [ ... ]

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31. Come In [sung text checked 1 time]

As I came to the edge of the woods
 [ ... ]

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32. The old men admiring themselves in the water [sung text checked 1 time]

I heard the old, old men say,
"Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away."
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
I heard the old, old men say,
"All that's beautiful drifts away,
Like the waters."

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

First published in Pall Mall Magazine, January 1903

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 82.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

33. End of the Day [sung text checked 1 time]

In fading light
Life dances, twists, and crazily rushes,
impudent and shrill, while
Night rises,

appeasing all, even hunger,
hiding all, even shame,
The Poet whispers to himself:
Finally!

while body and soul
long desperately for rest,
my heart seethes with deathly dreams.

Let me lie on my back
and enshroud myself in your curtains,
O nourishing darkness!

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

34. Faith [sung text checked 1 time]

I've been having these
 [ ... ]

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35. Even now the night jasmine is pouring [sung text checked 1 time]

... even now the night jasmine is pouring
 [ ... ]

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36. Evidence of Things not seen [sung text checked 1 time]

Faith lights us, even through the Grave,
being the Evidence of Things not seen.
And this is the Comfort of the Good,
that the Grave cannot hold them,
and that they live as soon as they die.
For Death is no more than a Turning
of us over from Time to Eternity.
Death then, being the Way and Condition of Life,
we cannot love to live, if we cannot bear to die.

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail