Three songs

Song Cycle by Ethel Mary Smyth, Dame (1858 - 1944)

Word count: 908

1. The clown [sung text not yet checked]

There was once a poor clown all dressed in white,
  In a dungeon, chained to the bars ; 
And he danced all day, and he danced all night, 
  To the sound of the dancing stars. 

"O clown, silly clown, O why do you dance ? 
  You know you can never be free. 
You are tied by the leg to the strings of chance, 
  But you dance like captive flea." 

"My chain is heavy, my dungeon is dark, 
  I know I can never be free. 
In my heart, in my heart there's a dancing spark, 
  And the stars make music for me. 

"Oh ! muffle my cell and rivet my chains, 
  And fetter my feet and my hands, 
My soul is a horse of foam without reins. 
  That dances on deathless sands." 

Authorship

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Confirmed with The Collected Poems of Maurice Baring, London : John Lane, the Bodley Head; New York : John Lane Company, 1911, page 58.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

1. Der Narr [sung text checked 1 time]

War ein armer Hanswurst in weißem Kleid,
musst' in Kerker und Ketten geh'n;
und er tanzt bei Tag und zu nächt'ger Zeit,
wenn die Sterne im Tanz sich dreh'n.

O Narr, dummer Narr, worauf du nur baust?
Fliehst nimmer aus dunklem Gelass,
bleibst gefesselt am Fuß von des Schicksals Faust,
und du tanz'st wie die Flieg' im Glas.

Schwer drückt die Kette mich armen Wicht,
dem nimmer die Freiheit lacht,
doch mein Herz, o mein Herz ist ein tanzend Licht,
und in Sternen singt mir die Nacht.

O lasst mich erstickt im finsteren Turm
und schmiedet in Ketten mich ganz;
die Seele ist frei und jagt mit dem Sturm
in seligen Höh'n zum Tanz.

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From the Smyth score.


Researcher for this text: Johann Winkler

2. Possession [sung text checked 1 time]

There bloomed [by]1 my cottage door
A rose with a heart scented sweet,
O so lovely and fair that I plucked it one day,
Laid it over my own heart's [quick]2 beat.
In a moment its petals were shed:
Just a tiny white mound at my feet.

There flew through my casements low
A linnet [who]3 richly could sing.
Sang so thrillingly sweet I could not let it go
But must cage it, the [glad, pretty]4 thing.
But it [died]5 in the cage I had made,
Not a note to my chamber would bring.

There came to my lonely soul
[A]6 friend I had waited for long,
And the deep chilly silence lay stricken and dead,
Pierc'd to death by our love and our song.
And I thought [on]7 the bird and the flow'r
And my soul in its knowledge grew strong.

Go out when thou wilt, O friend; --
Sing thy song, roam the world glad and free ;
By the holding I lose; by the giving I gain,
And the gods cannot take thee from me ;
For a song and a scent on the wind
Shall drift in through the doorway from thee.

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View original text (without footnotes)
1 Smyth: "at"
2 Smyth: "swift"
3 Smyth: "that"
4 Smyth: "wild, happy"
5 Smyth: "pined"
6 Smyth: "The"
7 Smyth: "of"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Erkenntnis [sung text checked 1 time]

Es blüht in dem Garten mein
ein Blümlein in lieblicher Lust;
und es duftet so süß, und ich pflückte es fein,
und ich drückt's an die klopfende Brust.
Aber bald lag entblättert die Pracht,
und das Blümlein hat sterben gemusst.

Es flog durch das Fenster mein
ein Vöglein, das zwitscherte hell,
sang so zauberisch süß, da fing ich es ein,
und im Käfig verschloss ich es schnell.
Doch es starb noch in selbiger Nacht
ohne Sang mir mein lieber Gesell.

Es kam meiner Einsamkeit
der Freund, den ich träumte so lang',
und da starb mir das Schweigen und starb alles Leid,
und nur Liebe noch war und Gesang.
Hab' an Blume und Vogel gedacht,
und ins Herz die Erkenntnis mir drang:

Geh' fort, wenn du willst, mein Freund,
ruft die Welt dich, die weite, von hier;
nur der Zwang, der entzweit, und die Freiheit vereint,
und kein Gott kann entreißen dich mir.
Sang und Duft, den der Wind mir gebracht,
ist ein Grüßen, du Lieber, von dir!

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Researcher for this text: Johann Winkler

3. On the road [sung text not yet checked]

  O, the beat of the drums,
  And the sheen of the spears. 
And red banners that toss like the sea,
  Better far than the peace 
  That is fraught with deep death 
To the wild rebel soul set in me ;
Better pour out the blood in a swift crimson flood, 
  As to music we march to the grave, 
Than to feel day by day the slow drops ebb away 
  From the chain-bitten heart of a slave. 

  0, to fight to the death, 
  With a hope through the strife 
That the freedom we seek shall be ours, 
  Better far than despair 
  And the coward's weak words 
Trembling back from the front of the Powers. 
Better do, dare, and fail, than shake like a leaf pale 
  In the breath of the wild autumn wind : 
Better death on the field with an honour bright shield 
  Than the soft bed that coward souls find. 

  0, we leave hearth-stone warm 
  For the rain-beaten roads. 
And our arrows are hung at our sides : 
  Freedom dearer to us 
  Than the home that we leave, 
Or the warm, clinging arms of the bride. 
For our children's fair eyes, like the blue of the skies, 
  Foemen's gleaming with hate, chill as steel ; 
For the Mother-love touch that which smites over-much 
  Till the life, stricken deep, earthward reels. 

  We have waited so long 
  We can wait now no more, 
And we march forth, our Freedom to meet ; 
  Keeping step to a tune 
  That is brave as our hearts. 
Whilst the stones clatter loud to our feet. 
Can we fail when we fight for the sake of the light 
  From the hearths where our cradles have stood ? 
For the fathers long dead, for the races ahead 
  That shall spring up like flowers from our blood ?

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]