Dream Variations

Song Cycle by Richard Thompson (b. 1954)

Word count: 348

1. I, too sing America [sung text not yet checked]

I, too sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll [be]1 at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed. --

[I, too, am America.]2

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1 Bonds: "sit"
2 omitted by Bonds.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The Negro speaks of rivers [sung text not yet checked]

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow 
    of human blood in human veins.
 
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
 
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the Pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down 
    to New Orleans and I've seen its muddy bosom turn all golden 
    in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
 
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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

Confirmed with Mein dunklen Hände. Moderne Negerlyrik in Original und Nachdichtung, herausgegeben und übertragen von Eva Hesse und Paridam von dem Knesebeck, München: Nymphenburger Verlag, 1953, page 18.

Note: all indented lines were attached to the previous line in the original publication; the lines have been broken to fit on the screen.

First published in Crisis, June 1921.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Monotony [sung text not yet checked]

Today like yesterday
Tomorrow like today;
The drip, drip, drip,
Of monotony
Is wearing my life away;
Today like yesterday,
Tomorrow like today.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. A black pierrot [sung text not yet checked]

I am a black pierrot:
        She did not love me,
        So I crept into the night
        And the night was black, too.
I am a black pierrot:
        She did not love me,
        So I wept until the red dawn
        Dripped blood over the eastern hills
        And my heart was bleeding, too
I am a black pierrot:
        She did not love me,
        So with my once gay-colored soul
        Shrunken like a balloon without air,
        I went forth in the morning
        To seek a new brown love. 

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5. Dream variations [sung text not yet checked]

To fling my arms wide
In some place in the sun,
To whirl and dance
Till the bright day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes gently
Dark like me.
That is my dream.
To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun.
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening,
A tall, slim tree,
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]