Choral Rhapsody

Song Cycle by Thomas Carl Whitmer (1873 - 1959)

Word count: 833

?. The last invocation [sung text not yet checked]

1
At the last, tenderly,
From the walls of the powerful, fortress'd house,
From the clasp of the knitted locks --
  from the keep of the well-closed doors,
Let me be wafted.

2
Let me glide noiselessly forth;
With the key of softness unlock the locks -- with a whisper,
Set [ope]1 the doors, O Soul!

3
Tenderly! be not impatient!
(Strong is your hold, O mortal flesh!
Strong is your hold, O Love.)

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1 Bacon: "up"; Pederson: "open"

Research team for this text: Ted Perry , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

?. I know I have the best of time and space [sung text not yet checked]

I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs,
and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.

You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you
with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout,
and laughingly dash with your hair.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Joy, shipmate, joy![sung text not yet checked]

Joy, shipmate, joy!
(Pleas'd to my soul at death I cry,)
Our life is closed, our life begins,
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore,
Joy, shipmate, joy.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Alegra’t company de bord, alegra’t!", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. There is that in me [sung text not yet checked]

There is that in me -- I do not know what it is --
     but I know it is in me.

Wrench'd and sweaty -- calm and cool then my body becomes,
I sleep -- I sleep long.

I do not know it -- it is without name -- it is a word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.

Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for my brothers and sisters.

Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death -- it is form, union, plan --
     it is eternal life -- it is Happiness.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

?. Darest thou now, O soul [sung text not yet checked]

Darest thou now O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet
   nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh,
   nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O Soul;
Nor dost thou -- all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream'd of, in that region,
   [that inaccessible land]1.

Till when the [ties loosen]2,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense,
   nor any bounds, [bound]3 us.

Then we burst forth -- we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul, prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last, -- 
   (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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Note: the indented lines have been broken off from the preceding lines so that parallel translations will be easier to see. This poem has five stanzas of three lines each.

1 W. Schuman: "the inaccessible land,/ The unknown region."
2 Bacon: "tie is loosened"
3 Bacon: "bounding"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

?. Come, said the Muse [sung text not yet checked]

Come, said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the Universal.
  
In this broad Earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed Perfection.
  
By every life a share, or more or less,
None born but it is born -- conceal'd or unconceal'd, the seed is waiting.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]