Songs of Innocence

Song Cycle by Elie Siegmeister (1909 - 1991)

Word count: 615

1. Piping down the valleys [sung text not yet checked]

Piping down the valleys wild,
  Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
  And he laughing said to me:

"Pipe a song about a lamb."
  So I piped with merry chear.
"Piper, pipe that song again."
  So I piped: he wept to hear.

"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
  Sing thy songs of happy chear."
So I sang the same again,
  While he wept with joy to hear.

"Piper, sit thee down and write
  In a book, that all may read."
So he vanished from my sight;
  And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
  And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
  Every child may joy to hear.

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Вступление", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

2. The lamb  [sung text not yet checked]

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

View original text (without footnotes)
1 MacNutt, Somervell: "bade"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

3. Infant Joy [sung text not yet checked]

"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty Joy!
Sweet Joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while,
Sweet joy befall thee!

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

  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Дитя-радость", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The little black boy [sung text not yet checked]

My mother bore me in the southern wild, 
  And I am black, but O! my soul is white!
White as an angel is the English child, 
  But I am black, as if bereaved of light. 

My mother taught me underneath a tree, 
  And, sitting down before the heat of day, 
She took me on her lap and kissèd me, 
  And, pointing to the East, began to say: 

"Look [at]2 the rising sun: there God does live, 
  And gives His light, and gives His heat away, 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive 
  Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday. 

"And we are put on earth a little space, 
  That we may learn to bear the beams of love; 
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face 
  [Are]1 but a cloud, and like a shady grove. 

"For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, 
  The cloud will vanish; we shall hear His voice, 
Saying: `Come out from the grove, my love and care,
  And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' " 

Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me;
  And thus I say to little English boy: 
When I from black and he from white cloud free, 
  And round the tent of God like lambs we joy, 

I'll shade him from the heat till he can bear 
  To lean in joy upon our Father's knee; 
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, 
  And be like him, and he will then love me.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bolcom: "Is"
2 Bolcom, Cowell: "on"

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

5. Spring  [sung text not yet checked]

Sound the Flute!
Now [it's]1 mute.
Birds delight
Day and Night;
Nightingale
In the dale,
Lark in Sky,2
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,
To welcome in the Year.

Little Boy,
Full of Joy;
Little Girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise;
Merrily, Merrily, 
To welcome in the Year.

Little Lamb,
Here I am;
Come and [lick
My white neck;]3
Let me pull
Your soft Wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, Merrily, 
[We]4 welcome in the Year.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 MacNutt: "'tis"
2 Dougherty inserts "Out of sight" after this line
3 MacNutt: "play/ Hours away"
4 MacNutt: "To"

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