Five Songs of Experience

Song Cycle by John H. Harbison (b. 1938)

Word count: 360

1. Hear the voice of the bard [sung text not yet checked]

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, and Future see;
Whose ears have heard
the Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees,

Calling the lapsed Soul 
And weeping in the evening dew
That might control
the starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

"O earth, O earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn, 
and [the morn]1
rises from the slumbering mass.

"Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
the watery shore,
Is given thee till break of day."

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1 Mitchell: morning

Researcher for this text: Victoria Brago

2. Earth's answer [sung text not yet checked]

Earth rais'd up her head
From the darkness dread and drear.
Her light fled,
Stony dread!
And her locks cover'd with grey despair.

"Prison'd on wat'ry shore,
Starry Jealousy does keep my den:
Cold and hoar,
Weeping o'er,
I hear the Father of the Ancient Men.

"Selfish Father of Men!
Cruel, jealous, selfish Fear!
Can delight,
Chain'd in night,
The virgins of youth and morning bear?

"Does spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?
Does the sower
Sow by night,
Or the ploughman in darkness plough?

"Break this heavy chain
That does freeze my bones around.
Selfish! vain!
Eternal bane!
That free Love with bondage bound."

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Ah! Sun-flower! weary of time [sung text not yet checked]

Ah, Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime,
Where the traveller's journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Ah ! tournesol !", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Elisa Rapado) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The voice of the ancient bard [sung text not yet checked]

Youth of delight, come hither,
And see the opening morn,
Image of truth new-born.
Doubt is fled, and clouds of reason,
Dark disputes and artful teasing.
Folly is an endless maze,
Tangled roots perplex her ways.
How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead,
And feel they know not what but care,
And wish to lead others, when they should be led.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. A divine image [sung text not yet checked]

Cruelty has a human heart,
 And Jealousy a human face,
Terror the human form divine,
 And Secrecy the human dress.

The human dress is forgèd iron,
 The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace seal'd,
 The human heart its hungry gorge.

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry