Bitter for Sweet

by Simon Sargon (b. 1938)

Word count: 760

1. Sound sleep [sung text checked 1 time]

Some are laughing, some are weeping;
She is sleeping, only sleeping.
Round her rest wild flowers are creeping;
There the wind is heaping, heaping
Sweetest sweets of Summer’s keeping,
By the corn fields ripe for reaping.

There are lilies, and there blushes
The deep rose, and there the thrushes
Sing till latest sunlight flushes
In the west; a fresh wind brushes
Through the leaves while evening hushes.

There by day the lark is singing
And the grass and weeds are springing;
There by night the bat is winging;
There for ever winds are bringing
Far-off chimes of church-bells ringing.

Night and morning, noon and even,
Their sound fills her dreams with Heaven:
The long strife at length is striven:
Till her grave-bands shall be riven
Such is the good portion given
To her soul at rest and shriven.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Wrestling [sung text checked 1 time]

Alas my Lord,
How should I wrestle all the livelong night
With Thee my God, my Strength and my Delight?

How can it need
So agonized an effort and a strain
To make Thy Face of Mercy shine again?

How can it need
Such wringing out of breathless prayer to move
Thee to Thy wonted Love, when Thou art Love?

Yet Abraham
So hung about Thine Arm outstretched and bared,
That for ten righteous Sodom had been spared.

Yet Jacob did
So hold Thee by the clenched hand of prayer
That he prevailed, and Thou didst bless him there.

Elias prayed,
And sealed the founts of Heaven; he prayed again
And lo, Thy Blessing fell in showers of rain.

Gulped by the fish,
As by the pit, lost Jonah made his moan;
And Thou forgavest, waiting to atone.

All Nineveh
Fasting and girt in sackcloth raised a cry,
Which moved Thee ere the day of grace went by.

Thy Church prayed on
And on for blessed Peter in his strait,
Till opened of its own accord the gate.

Yea, Thou my God
Hast prayed all night, and in the garden prayed
Even while, like melting wax, Thy strength was made.

Alas for him
Who faints, despite Thy Pattern, King of Saints:
Alas, alas, for me, the one that faints.

Lord, give us strength
To hold Thee fast, until we hear Thy Voice
Which Thine own know, who hearing It rejoice.

Lord, give us strength
To hold Thee fast until we see Thy Face,
Full Fountain of all Rapture and all Grace.

But when our strength
Shall be made weakness, and our bodies clay,
Hold Thou us fast, and give us sleep till day.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Song [sung text checked 1 time]

When I am dead, my dearest,
  Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
  Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
  With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
  And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
  I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
  Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
  That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
  And haply may forget.


See other settings of this text.

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Nach meinem Tode, Liebster", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Canzone", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

5. Holy Innocents [sung text checked 1 time]

Sleep, little Baby, sleep, 
  The holy Angels love thee, 
And guard thy bed, and keep 
  A blessed watch above thee. 
No spirit can come near 
  Nor evil beast to harm thee;
Sleep, Sweet, devoid of fear 
  Where nothing need alarm thee. 

The Love which doth not sleep, 
  The eternal Arms around thee;
The Shepherd of the sheep 
  In perfect love has found thee. 
Sleep thro' the holy night, 
  Christ-kept from snare and sorrow, 
Until thou wake to light 
  And love and warmth to-morrow.


See other settings of this text.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. By the Waters of Babylon [sung text not yet checked]

By the waters of Babylon
  We sit down and weep,
Far from the pleasant land
  Where our fathers sleep;
Far from our Holy Place
  From which the Glory is gone;
We sit in dust and weep
  By the waters of Babylon.

By the waters of Babylon
  The willow trees grow rank:
We hang our harps thereon
  Silent upon the bank.
Before us the days are dark,
  And dark the days that are gone;
We grope in the very dark
  By the waters of Babylon.

By the waters of Babylon
  We thirst for Jordan yet,
We pine for Jerusalem
  Whereon our hearts are set:
Our priests defiled and slain,
  Our princes ashamed and gone,
Oh how should we forget
  By the waters of Babylon?

By the waters of Babylon
  Tho' the wicked grind the just,
Our seed shall yet strike root
  And shall shoot up from the dust:
The captive shall lead captive,
  The slave rise up and begone,
And thou too shalt sit in dust
  O daughter of Babylon.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]