Quiet Airs

Song Cycle by Ernst Bacon (1898 - 1990)

Word count: 778

1. Twilight [sung text checked 1 time]

The stately tragedy of dusk
      Drew to its perfect close,
The virginal white evening star
      Sank, and the red moon rose.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Gentle greeting [sung text checked 1 time]

I know not how it falls on me, 
This summer evening, hushed and lone; 
Yet the faint wind comes soothingly 
With something of an olden tone.

Forgive me if I've shunned so long 
Your gentle greeting, earth and air! 
But sorrow withers [e'en]1 the strong, 
And who can fight against despair?

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1 Bacon: "even"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. The divine ship [sung text checked 1 time]

One thought ever at the fore -
That in the Divine Ship, the World, breasting Time and Space,
All Peoples of the globe together sail, sail the same voyage,
Are bound to the same destination.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Of love [sung text checked 1 time]

How love came in I do not know,
Whether by the eye, or ear, or no;
Or whether with the soul it came
(At first) infused with the same;
Whether in part 'tis here or there,
Or, like the soul, whole everywhere,
This troubles me: but I as well
As any other this can tell:
  That when from hence she does depart
  The outlet then is from the heart.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Eden [sung text checked 1 time]

Come slowly, Eden!
Lips unused to thee,
Bashful, sip thy [jasmines]1,
As the fainting bee,

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars - enters,
And is lost in balms!

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2019, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Hoekman: "Jessamines"

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

6. The little stone [sung text checked 1 time]

How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn't care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. Fond affection [sung text checked 1 time]

The world's so wide I cannot cross it, 
The sea's so deep I cannot wade, 
I'll just go hire me a little boatman 
To row me across the stormy tide. 

I give you back your ring and letters, 
And the picture I have loved so well 
And henceforth we will meet as strangers, 
But I can never say farewell. 

There's only three things that I could wish for, 
That is, my coffin, shroud and grave, 
And when I'm dead, oh please don't weep o'er me 
Or kiss the lips you once betrayed. 

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Stars [sung text not yet checked]

Stars, I have seen them fall,
  But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
  From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
  Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
  And still the sea is salt.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. The heart [sung text checked 1 time]

The heart asks pleasure - first,
And then excuse from pain.
And then those little anodynes
That deaden suffering.

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le Cœur réclame le Plaisir - d'abord", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Walter A. Aue) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

10. Song of snow-white heads [sung text checked 1 time]

Our love was pure
As the snow on the mountains:
White as a moon
Between the clouds --
They're telling me
Your thoughts are double
That's why I've come
To break it off.
To-day we'll drink
A cup of wine.
To-morrow we'll part
Beside the Canal:
Walking about
Beside the Canal,
Where its branches divide
East and west.
Alas and alas,
And again alas.
So must a girl
Cry when she's married,
If she find not a man
Of single heart,
Who will not leave her
Till her hair is white.

Authorship

Based on

Confirmed with A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Translated by Arthur Waley, London, Constable and Company Ltd., 1918, pages 50-51.

Note: the poem is preceded by this explanation:

Ssŭ-ma Hsiang-ju was a young poet who had lost his position at court owing to ill-health. One day Cho Wēn-chün, a rich man’s daughter, heard him singing at a feast given by her father. She eloped with him that night, and they set up a wine-shop together. After a time Hsiang-ju became famous as a poet, but his character was marred by love of money. He sold love-poems, which the ladies of the palace sent to the emperor in order to win his favour. Finally, he gave presents to the "ladies of Mo-ling," hoping to secure a concubine. It was this step that induced his mistress, Cho Wēn-chün, to write the following poem.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

11. The lamb [sung text checked 1 time]

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and [bid]1 thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is callèd by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild:
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are callèd by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "L'anyell", copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Thomas Schubert) , "Das Lamm", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) [singable] (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Агнец", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 MacNutt, Somervell: "bade"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

12. To musique, to becalme his fever [sung text checked 1 time]

Charm me asleep, and melt me so
With thy delicious numbers,
That, being ravish'd, hence I go
Away in easy slumbers.
Ease my sick head,
And make my bed,
Thou power that canst sever
From me this ill,
And quickly still,
Though thou not kill
My fever.

Thou sweetly canst convert the same
From a consuming fire
Into a gentle licking flame,
And make it thus expire.
Then make me weep
My pains asleep;
And give me such reposes
That I, poor I,
May think thereby
I live and die
'Mongst roses.

Fall on me like [a]1 silent dew,
Or like those maiden showers
Which, by the peep of day, do strew
A baptism o'er the flowers
Melt, melt my pains
With thy soft strains;
That, having ease me given,
With full delight
I leave this light,
And take my flight
[For]2 Heaven.

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1 Hindemith: "the"
2 Gideon, Hindemith: "To"

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