Three Walt Whitman Songs

Song Cycle by Kurt Weill (1900 - 1950)

1. O captain! My captain! [sung text not yet checked]

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
[The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:]1
    But O heart! heart! heart!
      O the bleeding drops of red,
        Where on the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.

[O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
    Here Captain! dear father!
      This arm beneath your head;
        It is some dream that on the deck,
          You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
      But I, with mournful tread,
        Walk the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.]1

Authorship:

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

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 omitted by Neidlinger.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Beat! Beat! Drums! [sung text not yet checked]

Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows - through doors - burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
[Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet - no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums - so shrill you bugles blow.]1

Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
[Over the traffic of cities - over the rumble of wheels in the streets;]1
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? 
No sleepers must sleep in those beds --
[No bargainers bargains by day - no brokers or speculators - would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums --]1 you bugles wilder blow.

[Beat! beat! drums!]1 - blow! bugles! blow!
[Make no parley - stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid - mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums - so loud you bugles blow.]1

Authorship:

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Battez ! battez ! tambours !", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Omitted by Neidlinger.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Dirge for two veterans [sung text not yet checked]

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
   Down a new-made double grave. 

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
   Immense and silent moon. 

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they are flooding,
   As with voices and with tears. 

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
   Strikes me through and through. 

   For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
   And the double grave awaits them.) 

   And nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
   And the strong dead-march enwraps me. 

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
   In heaven brighter growing.) 

   O strong dead-march you please me! 
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me! 
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial! 
   What I have I also give you. 

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
   My heart gives you love.

Authorship:

See other settings of this text.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Total word count: 676