Six Sorrow Songs

Song Cycle by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 - 1912)

Word count: 657

1. Oh what comes over the sea [sung text not yet checked]

Oh what comes over the sea,
  Shoals and quicksands past;
And what comes home to me,
  Sailing slow, sailing fast?

A wind comes over the sea
  With a moan in its blast;
But nothing comes home to me,
  Sailing slow, sailing fast.

Let me be, let me be,
  For my lot is cast:
Land or sea all's one to me,
  And sail it slow or fast.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. When I am dead, my dearest  [sung text not yet checked]

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.

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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

3. Oh roses for the flush of youth [sung text not yet checked]

O roses for the flush of youth, 
  And laurel for the perfect prime; 
But pluck an ivy branch for me 
  Grown old before my time. 

O violets for the grave of youth, 
  And bay for those dead in their prime; 
Give me the withered leaves I chose 
  Before in the old time.

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Note: first published under the pseudonym of Ellen Alleyn.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. She sat and sang alway [sung text checked 1 time]

She sat and sang alway
By the green margin of a stream,
Watching the fishes leap and play
Beneath the glad sunbeam.

I sat and wept alway
Beneath the moon's most shadowy beam,
Watching the blossoms of the May
Weep leaves into the stream.

I wept for memory;
She sang for hope that is so fair:
My tears were swallowed by the sea;
Her songs died on the air.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Unmindful of the roses [sung text checked 1 time]

Unmindful of the roses,
Unmindful of the thorn,
A reaper tired reposes
Among his gathered corn:
So might I, till the morn!

Cold as the cold Decembers,
Past as the days that set,
While only one remembers
And all the rest forget, --
But one remembers yet.

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First published in Century, May 1884

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Too late for love [sung text checked 1 time]

'Too late for love, too late for joy,
 Too late, too late!
You loitered on the [road]1 too long,
 You trifled at the gate:
The enchanted dove upon her branch
 Died without a mate;  
The enchanted princess in her tower
 Slept, died, behind the grate;
Her heart was starving all this while
 You made it wait.

'Ten years ago, five years ago,
 One year ago,
[Even]2 then you had arrived in time,
 Though somewhat slow;
Then you had known her living face
 Which now you cannot know:  
The frozen fountain would have leaped,
 The buds gone on to blow,
The warm south wind would have awaked
 To melt the snow.

[ ... ]

'You should have wept her yesterday,
 Wasting upon her bed:
But wherefore should you weep to-day
 That she is dead?
Lo, we who love weep not to-day,
 But crown her royal head.  
Let be these poppies that we strew,
 Your roses are too red:
Let be these poppies, not for you
 Cut down and spread.'

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The final, bride-song section of Rossetti's epic poem "The Prince's Progress"

Confirmed with Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress, and Other Poems, London, etc.: Oxford University Press/Project Gutenburg, 2005.

1 Coleridge-Taylor: "way"
2 Coleridge-Taylor: "e'en"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Garrett Medlock [Guest Editor]