The Drift of Things; Winter Songs

Song Cycle by Andrea Clearfield (b. 1960)

Word count: 993

1. Reluctance [sung text checked 1 time]

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet questions “Whither?”

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Roads [sung text checked 1 time]

End of the road
 [ ... ]

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3. Lost [sung text checked 1 time]

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
 [ ... ]

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4. Wind and window flower [sung text checked 1 time]

Subtitle: Out of the winter things he fashions a story of modern love

Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.

When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the caged yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,

He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.

He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.

But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.

Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.

But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. In a drear-nighted December [sung text checked 1 time]

In a drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne-er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them,
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

In a drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;

But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

Ah! Would’t were so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
To know the change and feel it,
When there is none to heal it,
Nor numbed sense to steal it,
Was never said in rhyme.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Blow, blow, thou winter wind [sung text checked 1 time]

Blow, blow thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As [man's]1 ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
[Because]2 thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
[ Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.]3

Freeze, freeze thou [bitter]4 sky,
[Thou dost]5 not bite so [nigh]6
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As [friend]7 remember'd not.
[ Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.]3

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

  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Paavo Cajander)
  • FRE French (Français) (François Pierre Guillaume Guizot)
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (David Paley) , "Stürm, stürm du Winterwind!", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Soffia, soffia vento invernale", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Paolo Montanari) , "Soffia, soffia, vento d'inverno", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: In Steele's score, "Heigh" is spelled "Hey"
1 Arne: "men's"
2 Parry: "Although"
3 not set by Arne.
4 Fortner: "winter"
5 Clearfield, Holman: "That does"
6 Korngold: "high"
7 Clearfield: "a friend"; Steele: "friends"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

7. Half of Life [sung text checked 1 time]

With yellow pears
 [ ... ]

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8. You are not surprised at the force of the storm [sung text checked 1 time]

You are not surprised at the force of the storm —
 [ ... ]

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9. Be it my loss [sung text checked 1 time]

Subtitle: It is time to make an end of speaking

Now close the windows and hush all the fields;	
  If the trees must, let them silently toss;	
No bird is singing now, and if there is,	
  Be it my loss.	
 
It will be long ere the marshes resume,	
  It will be long ere the earliest bird:	
So close the windows and not hear the wind,	
  But see all wind-stirred.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]