Six Songs on Poems by Emily Brontë

by John Woods Duke (1899 - 1984)

Word count: 1192

1. Remembrance [sung text not yet checked]

Cold in the earth, the deep snow piled above thee!
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my Only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time's all wearing wave?

Cold in the earth, and [fifteen]1 wild Decembers
From those brown hills have melted into spring
Faithful [indeed the]2 spirit that remembers
[After years]3 of change and suffering!

Sweet love of youth, forgive if I forget thee
While the World's tide is bearing me along;
[Other desires and darker hopes beset me
Hopes which obscure but cannot do thee wrong]4

No other [Sun]5 has lightened up my heaven;
No [other Star]6 has ever shone for me;
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given
all my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.

But when the days of golden dreams had perished
[Even]7 despair was powerless to destroy
[Then I did learn how existence could be cherished
Strengthened and fed without the aid of joy]4

Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
[Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more then mine]4

And even yet, I dare not let it languish
Dare not indulge in Memory's rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that [divinest]8 anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?


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Note: in the Fisk work, this is sung by Heathcliff
1 Fisk: "eighteen"
2 Fisk: "indeed is the"
3 Fisk: "After such years"
4 omitted by Mitchell
5 Fisk: "light"
6 Fisk: "second morn"
7 Fisk: "And even"
8 Fisk: "divine"

Researcher for this text: Victoria Brago

2. Love and friendship [sung text not yet checked]

Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree -
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms'
But which will bloom most constantly?

The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,
It's summer blossoms scent the air.
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?

Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly's sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He still may leave thy garland green.


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Note: Coulthard has made textual changes that are not noted above.

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

3. Worlds of Light [sung text not yet checked]

I'm happiest when most away
I can bear my soul from its home of clay
On a windy night when the moon is bright
And the eye can wander thru worlds of light

When I am not and none beside
Nor earth nor sea nor cloudless sky
But only spirit wandering wide
Thru infinite immensity.


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Note: in the Fisk work, this is sung by Edgar

Researcher for this text: Victoria Brago

4. On the moors [sung text not yet checked]

High waving heather, [beneath]1 stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
Darkness and glory rejoicingly [blending]2,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man's spirit away from its [deep]3 dungeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

All down the mountain sides, wild forests lending
One mighty voice to the lifegiving wind;
Rivers their banks in the jubilee rending,
Fast thru the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wider and deeper their valleys extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.

Shining and lowering and swelling and dying
Changing forever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
Lightning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.


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View original text (without footnotes)
Note: in the Fisk work, this is sung by Heathcliff
1 Fisk: "'neath"
2 Fisk: "blended"
3 Fisk: "drear"

Researcher for this text: Victoria Brago

5. The old stoic [sung text not yet checked]

Riches I hold in light esteem,
  And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream
  That vanish'd with the morn;

And if I pray, the only prayer
  That moves my lips for me
Is, "Leave the heart that now I bear,
  And give me liberty!"

Yes, as my swift days near their goal,
  'T is all that I implore:
In life and death a chainless soul,
  With courage to endure.


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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. The messenger [sung text not yet checked]

In the dungeon-crypts, idly did I stray,
Reckless of the lives wasting there away;
"Draw the ponderous bars! open, Warder stern!"
He dared not say me nay - the hinges harshly turn.

"Our guests are darkly lodged," I whisper'd, gazing through
The vault, whose grated eye showed heaven more grey than blue;
(This was when glad spring laughed in awaking pride;)
"Aye, darkly lodged enough!" returned my sullen guide.

Then, God forgive my youth; forgive my careless tongue;
I scoffed, as the chill chains on the damp flag-stones rung:
"Confined in triple walls, art thou so much to fear,
That we must bind thee down and clench thy fetters here?"

The captive raised her face, it was as soft and mild
As sculpted marble saint, or slumbering unwean'd child;
It was so soft and mild, it was so sweet and fair,
Pain could not trace a line, nor grief a shadow there!

The captive raised her hand and pressed it to her brow;
"I have been struck," she said, "and I am suffering now;
Yet these are little worth, your bolts and irons strong,
And, were they forged in steel, they could not hold me long."

Hoarse laughed the jailor grim: "Shall I be won to hear;
Dost think, fond, dreaming wretch, that I shall grant thy prayer?
Or, better still, wilt melt my master's heart with groans?
Ah! sooner might the sun thaw down these granite stones.

"My master's voice is low, his aspect bland and kind,
But hard as hardest flint, the soul that lurks behind;
And I am rough and rude, yet not more rough to see
Than is the hidden ghost that has its home in me."

About her lips there played a smile of almost scorn,
"My friend," she gently said, "you have not heard me mourn;
When you my kindred's lives, my lost life, can restore,
Then I may weep and sue, - but never, friend, before!

Still, let my tyrants know, I am not doom'd to wear
Year after year in gloom, and desolate despair;
A messenger of Hope, comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.

He comes with western winds, with evening's wandering airs,
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars.
Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.

Desire for nothing known in my maturer years,
When Joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears.
When, if my spirit's sky was full of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came, from sun, or thunder storm.

But, first, a hush of peace - a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends.
Mute music soothes my breast, unuttered harmony,
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels:
Its wings are almost free - its home, its harbour found,
Measuring the gulph, it stoops, and dares the final bound.

Oh, dreadful is the check - intense the agony -
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again,
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.

Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,
If it but herald death, the vision is divine!"

She ceased to speak, and we, unanswering, turned to go -
We had no further power to work the captive woe:
Her cheek, her gleaming eye, declared that man had given
A sentence, unapproved, and overruled by Heaven. 


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]