Eight Songs of Walter de la Mare

Song Cycle by Elaine Hugh-Jones (b. 1927)

Word count: 476

1. Winter [sung text not yet checked]

Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day's journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Ghosts [sung text not yet checked]

Sweep thy faint strings, Musician,
  With thy long, lean hand;
Downward the starry tapers burn,
  Sinks soft the waning sand;
The old hound whimpers couched in sleep,
  The embers smoulder low;
Across the wall the shadows
    Come, and go.

Sweep softly thy strings, Musician,
  The minutes mount to hours;
Frost on the windless casement weaves
  A labyrinth of flowers;
Ghosts linger in the darkening air,
  Hearken at the [opening]1 door;
Music hath [called]2 them, dreaming,
    Home once more.

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View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with Peacock Pie. A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare, London: Constable & Co. Ltd., [1920], p. 176.

1 Bennett, Gibbs: "open"
2 Gibbs: "brought"

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

3. Echo [sung text not yet checked]

Seven sweet notes
In the moonlight pale
Warbled a leaf-hidden
Nightingale:
And Echo in hiding
By an old green wall
Under the willows
Sighed back them all.

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Researcher for this text: David Sims [Guest Editor]

4. Solitude [sung text not yet checked]

'Wish! and it's thine!' the changeling piped,
Shrill from her thorn.
And I with dew-soaked shoes could only
Stare in return.

High up above me sang the lark,
Beneath me lay the sea,
Gorse, bramble, rock, and winchat were
My only company.

Her tiny voice fell faint, and lo,
Where she had been,
Leaned but a few-days-budded rose
Out of the green.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The hare [sung text not yet checked]

In the black furrow of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled o' the green;
And I whispered "Whsst! witch-hare",
Away like a ghostie o'er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.

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6. Silver [sung text not yet checked]

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch 
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
[From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep]1
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Bachlund, Britten, Duke, Gibbs.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The raven's tomb [sung text not yet checked]

— This text is not currently
in the database but will be added
as soon as we obtain it. —

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  • by Anonymous / Unidentified Author

8. The ride-by-nights [sung text not yet checked]

Up on their brooms the Witches stream,
Crooked and black in the crescent's gleam;
One foot high, and one foot low,
Bearded, cloaked, and cowled, they go,
'Neath Charlie's Wain they twitter and tweet,
And away they swarm 'neath the Dragon's feet,
With a whoop and a flutter they swing and sway,
And surge pell-mell down the Milky Way.
Betwixt the legs of the glittering Chair
They hover and squeak in the empty air.
Then round they swoop past the glimmering Lion
To where Sirius barks behind huge Orion;
Up, then, and over to wheel amain,
Under the silver, and home again.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]