4 Songs to Poems by Hart Crane

by Stanley Grill (b. 1953)

Word count: 345

1. At Melville’s Tomb [sung text checked 1 time]

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides ... High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

2. Interior [sung text checked 1 time]

It sheds a shy solemnity,
This lamp in our poor room.
O grey and gold amenity, --
Silence and gentle gloom!

Wide from the world, a stolen hour
We claim, and none may know
How love blooms like a tardy flower
Here in the day's after-glow.

And even should the world break in
With jealous threat and guile,
The world, at last, must bow and win
Our pity and a smile.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. Exile [sung text checked 1 time]

My hands have not touched pleasure since your hands, --
No, -- nor my lips freed laughter since 'farewell',
And with the day, distance again expands
Voiceless between us, as an uncoiled shell.

Yet, love endures, though starving and alone.
A dove's wings clung about my heart each night
With surging gentleness, and the blue stone
Set in the tryst-ring has but worn more bright.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

4. A Name for All [sung text checked 1 time]

Moonmoth and grasshopper that flee our page 
And still wing on, untarnished of the name 
We pinion to your bodies to assuage 
Our envy of your freedom—we must maim 

Because we are usurpers, and chagrined— 
And take the wing and scar it in the hand. 
Names we have, even, to clap on the wind; 
But we must die, as you, to understand. 

I dreamed that all men dropped their names, and sang 
As only they can praise, who build their days 
With fin and hoof, with wing and sweetened fang 
Struck free and holy in one Name always.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]