Songs of Sunset

Song Cycle by Frederick Delius (1862 - 1934)

Word count: 871

1. A song of the setting sun![sung text checked 1 time]

A song of the setting sun!
The sky in the west is red,
And the day is all but done:
While yonder up overhead,
All too soon,
There rises, so cold, the cynic moon.

A song of a winter day!
The wind of the north doth blow,
From a sky that's chill and gray,
On fields where no crops now grow,
Fields long shorn
Of bearded barley and golden corn.

A song of a faded flower!
'Twas plucked in the tender bud,
And fair and fresh for an hour,
In a lady's hair it stood.
Now, ah! now,
Faded it lies in the dust and low.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

2. Cease smiling, Dear! a little while be sad[sung text checked 1 time]

Cease smiling, Dear! a little while be sad,
Here in the silence, under the wan moon.
Sweet are thine eyes, but how can I be glad,
Knowing they change so soon?

O could this moment be perpetuate!
Must we grow old, and leaden-eyed and gray
And taste no more the wild and passionate
Love sorrows of to-day?

O red pomegranate of thy perfect mouth!
My lips' life-fruitage might I taste and die,
Here to thy garden, where the scented south
Wind chastens agony;

Reap death from thy live lips in one long kiss,
And look my last into thine eyes and rest:
What sweets had life to me sweeter than this
Swift dying on thy breast?

Or, if that may not be, for Love's sake, Dear!
Keep silence still, and dream that we shall lie.
Red mouth to mouth, entwined, and always hear
The south wind's melody,

Here in thy garden, through the sighing boughs,
Beyond the reach of time and chance and change,
And bitter life and death, and broken vows,
That sadden and estrange.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

3. Pale amber sunlight falls across[sung text checked 1 time]

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: summer's loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these.

Let misty autumn be our part!
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
Eludes a little time's deceit.

Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream.

[ ... ]

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Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

4. O Mors! [sung text checked 1 time]

Exceeding sorrow
  Consumeth my sad heart!
Because to-morrow
  We must depart,
Now is exceeding sorrow
  All my part!

Give over playing,
  Cast thy viol away:
Merely laying
  Thine head my way:
Prithee, give over playing,
  Grave or gay.

Be no word spoken;
  Weep nothing: let a pale
Silence, unbroken
  Silence prevail!
Prithee, be no word spoken,
  Lest I fail!

Forget tomorrow!
  Weep nothing: only lay
In silent sorrow
  Thine head my way!
Let us forget to-morrow
  This one day!

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Confirmed with Ernest Dowson, Collected Poems, ed. by R. K. R. Thornton with Caroline Dowson, Birmingham University Press, 2003, page 89.


Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

5. Exile [sung text checked 1 time]

By the sad waters of separation
  Where we have wandered by divers ways,
I have but the shadow and imitation
  Of the old, memorial days.

In music I have no consolation,
  No roses are pale enough for me;
The sound of the waters of separation
  Surpasseth roses and melody.

By the sad waters of separation
  Dimly I hear, from an hidden place
The sigh of mine ancient adoration:
  Hardly can I remember your face.

[If you be dead, no]1 proclamation
  Sprang to me over the waste, gray sea:
Living, the waters of separation
  Sever, for ever, your soul from me.

No man knoweth our desolation;
Memory pales of the old delight;
While the sad waters of separation
Bear us on to the ultimate night.

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1 The first version (found in Dowson's letters) had "You may be dead, and no"

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

6. In spring [sung text not yet checked]

See how the trees and the osiers lithe
Are green bedecked and the woods are blithe. 
The meadows have donned their cape of flowers, 
The air is soft with the sweet May showers, 
And the birds make melody: 
But the spring of the soul, the spring of the soul 
Cometh no more for you or for me.

The lazy hum of the busy bees 
Murmureth through the almond trees; 
The jonquil flaunteth a gay, blonde head, 
The primrose peeps from a mossy bed, 
And the violets scent the lane. 
But the flowers of the soul, the flowers of the soul 
For you and for me bloom never again.

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Researcher for this text: David K. Smythe

7. I was not sorrowful, I could not weep[sung text checked 1 time]

I was not sorrowful, I could not weep,
And all my memories were put to sleep.

I watched the river grow more white and strange,
All day till evening I watched it change.

All day till evening I watched the rain
Beat wearily upon the window pane

I was not sorrowful, but only tired
Of everything that ever I desired.

Her lips, her eyes, all day became to me
The shadow of a shadow utterly.

All day [mine]1 hunger for her heart became
Oblivion, until the evening came,

And left me sorrowful, inclined to weep,
With all my memories that could not sleep.

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1 K. Sorabji: my (in manuscript, although critical edition suggests that original text should be respected)
Research team for this text: Ted Perry , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

8. Vitae summa [sung text checked 1 time]

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
  Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
  We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
  Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
  Within a dream.

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Researcher for this text: David K. Smythe