A Procession Winding Around Me

Song Cycle by Jeffrey Van

Word count: 470

?. Reconciliation [sung text not yet checked]

Word over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage,/
   must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, /
   incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:
...For my enemy is dead -- a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin -- I draw near;
[I bend]1 down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

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

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

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1 Rorem: "Bend down"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. By the bivouac's fitful flame [sung text not yet checked]

By the bivouac's fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and slow - but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields' and woods' dim outline,
The darkness lit by spots of kindled fire, the silence,
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,
The shrubs and trees, (as I lift my eyes they seem to be stealthily watching me,)
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and wondrous thoughts,
Of life and death, of home and the past and loved, and of those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,
By the bivouac's fitful flame. 

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. 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

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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

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1 Omitted by Neidlinger.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Look down, fair moon  [sung text not yet checked]

Look down, fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with [their]1 arms toss'd wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.

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1 omitted by Rands.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]