A Clear Midnight: Six Songs set to Poems of Walt Whitman for Baritone, Horn, and Piano

by Simon Sargon (b. 1938)

Word count: 2204

1. A song of joys [sung text checked 1 time]

O to make the most jubilant song!
Full of music -- full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments -- full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals -- O for the swiftness 
  and balance of fishes!
O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!

O the joy of my spirit -- it is uncaged -- it darts like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time,
I will have thousands of globes and all time.

O the engineer's joys! to go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam, the merry shriek, the steam-whistle, 
  the laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way and speed off in the distance.

[ ... ]

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Nocturne [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]

Press close, bare-bosom'd night! Press close, magnetic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few stars!
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night.

Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breath'd earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees;
Earth of departed sunset! earth of the mountains, misty-topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just tinged with blue!
Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river!
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbow'd earth! rich, apple-blossom'd earth!
Smile, for your lover comes!

[ ... ]

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

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Rapsodia", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Dirge for two veterans [sung text checked 1 time]

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
   Down a new-made double grave. 

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
   Immense and silent moon. 

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they are flooding,
   As with voices and with tears. 

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
   Strikes me through and through. 

   For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
   And the double grave awaits them.) 

   And nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
   And the strong dead-march enwraps me. 

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
   In heaven brighter growing.) 

   O strong dead-march you please me! 
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me! 
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial! 
   What I have I also give you. 

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
   My heart gives you love.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. A clear midnight [sung text checked 1 time]

This is thy hour, O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death, and the stars.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. O you whom I often [sung text not yet checked]

O you whom I often and silently come 
  where you are that I may be with you, 
As I walk by your side or sit near,
  or remain in the same room with you, 
Little you know the subtle electric fire
  that for your sake is playing within me.

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Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

6. The last invocation [sung text not yet checked]

1
At the last, tenderly,
From the walls of the powerful, fortress'd house,
From the clasp of the knitted locks --
  from the keep of the well-closed doors,
Let me be wafted.

2
Let me glide noiselessly forth;
With the key of softness unlock the locks -- with a whisper,
Set [ope]1 the doors, O Soul!

3
Tenderly! be not impatient!
(Strong is your hold, O mortal flesh!
Strong is your hold, O Love.)

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bacon: "up"; Pederson: "open"

Research team for this text: Ted Perry , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]