Strange Productions

Song Cycle by Nico Muhly (b. 1981)

Word count: 648

1. An anxiety to write is frequently the sign of an approaching attack[sung text checked 1 time]

An anxiety to write is frequently the sign of an approaching attack. 
A woman, who has been some time under my care for recurrent mania, 
always takes to her pen at the onset of an attack. She writes letters, 
and fills up every corner of the paper. And when finished, they are 
quite unintelligible, and consist mostly of a repetition of the same sentences.

Authorship

Note: this is a prose text; the line breaks are arbitrary.


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

2. Say, wilt thou go with me, sweet maid[sung text checked 1 time]

[Say]1, wilt thou go with me, sweet maid,
Say, maiden, wilt thou go with me
Through the valley-depths of shade,
Of [bright]2 and dark obscurity;
Where the path has lost its way,
Where the sun forgets the day,
Where there's nor [light nor life]3 to see,
Sweet maiden, wilt thou go with me?

Where stones will turn to flooding streams,
Where plains will rise like ocean's waves,
Where life will fade like visioned dreams
And [darkness]4 darken into caves,
Say, maiden, wilt thou go with me
Through this sad non-identity
Where parents live and are forgot,
And sisters live and know us not?

Say, maiden, wilt thou go with me
In this strange death of life to be,
To live in death and be the same,
Without this life or home or name,
At once to be and not to be --
That was and is not -- yet to see
Things pass like shadows, and the sky
Above, below, around us lie?

The land of shadows wilt thou trace,
Nor look nor know each other's face;
The present marred with reason gone,
And past and present both as one?
Say, maiden, can thy life be led
To join the living and the dead?
Then trace thy footsteps on with me:
We are wed to one eternity.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Muhly, Venables.
2 Muhly, Venables: "night"
3 Muhly, Venables: "life nor light"
4 Muhly, Venables: "mountains"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. During the greater part of these two years, the patient spent much of his time in writing[sung text checked 1 time]

During the greater part of these two years, the patient spent much of his time in writing. 
Sometimes verses, or long letters of the most rambling character. This is one of the letters:

Dear Doctor,

To write or not to write, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to follow the 
visit of the great 'Fulbourn' with 'chronic melancholy' expressions of regret (withheld 
when he was here) that, as the Fates would have it, we were so little prepared to receive 
him. we were so little prepared to receive him. we were so little prepared to receive him. 
My Fulbourn star, but an instant seen, like a meteor's flash, a blank when gone.

To dust of ages covering my little sanctum parlour room, the available drapery to greet 
the Doctor stowed away through the midst of the regenerating (water and scrubbing - 
cleanliness next to godliness, political and spiritual) cleansing of a little world. The 
Great Physician walked, bedimmed by the 'dark ages' the long passage of Western
Enterprise, leading to the curvatures of the rising Eastern morn. The rounded configuration 
of Lunar (tics) garden's lives and o'ershadowment of Brittania's vortex . . .

After he left the Asylum he went to work at his trade, but two or three years later, 
He began to write very strangely again.

Authorship

Note: this is a prose text; the line breaks are arbitrary.


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

4. I am: yet what I am none cares or knows[sung text checked 1 time]

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish [in]1 oblivious host,
[Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost]2;
And yet I am, [and live with shadows tossed]3

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking [dreams]4,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
[But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest - that I loved the best -]5
Are strange - nay, [rather]6 stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod,
A place where woman never smiled or wept;
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
[Untroubling and untroubled where I lie]7, -
The grass below - above the vaulted sky.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Muhly: "an"
2 Muhly: "Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost"
3 Muhly: "- I live - though I am toss'd"
4 Muhly: "dream"
5 Muhly: "But the huge shipwreck of my own extreme and all that's dear./ Even those I loved the best"
6 Muhly: "they are"
7 Muhly: "Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]