A First Volume of Ten Songs

by Ivor (Bertie) Gurney (1890 - 1937)

Word count: 853

1. The singer [sung text checked 1 time]

In the dim light of the golden lamp
The singer stands and sings.
And the songs rise up like coloured bubbles
Or birds with shining wings.

And the movement of the merry or plaintive keys
Sounds in the silent air
Till the listener feels the room no more
But only music there.

But still from the sweet and rounded mouth
The delicate sounds arise
Like floating bubbles whose colours are
The coloured melodies.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The Latmian shepherd [sung text not yet checked]

The moon's a drowsy fool to-night, 
Wrapped in fleecy clouds and white ; 
And all the while Endymion 
Sleeps on Latmos top alone. 

Not a single star is seen : 
They are gathered round their queen, 
Keeping vigil by her bed, 
Patient and unwearied. 

Now the poet drops his pen 
And moves about like other men : 
Tom o' Bedlam now is still 
And sleeps beneath the hawthorn'd hill. 

Only the Latmian shepherd deems 
Something missing from his dreams 
And tosses as he sleeps alone. 
Alas, alas, Endymion ! 

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Black Stitchel [sung text checked 1 time]

As I was lying on Black Stitchel 
The wind was blowing from the South 
And I was thinking of the laughters 
Of my love's mouth. 

As I was lying on Black Stitchel 
The wind was blowing from the West : 
And I was thinking of the quiet 
Of my love's breast. 

As I was lying on Black Stitchel 
The wind was blowing from the North 
And I was thinking of the countries 
Black with wrath. 

As I was lying on Black Stitchel 
The wind was blowing from the East : 
And I could think no more for pity 
Of man and beast.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Down by the Salley Gardens [sung text checked 1 time]

Down by the Salley Gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the Salley Gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take [love]1 easy, as the leaves grow on the [tree]2;
But I, being young and foolish, with her [did]3 not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRI Frisian (Geart van der Meer) , "Bij de marswâl", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Sharon Krebs) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)

Retitled "Down by the Salley Gardens" with the subtitle "An old song re-sung" when republished in Poems in 1895.

Note: "salley" is an anglicized form of the Irish word "saileach", which means willow.

1 Gurney: "life"
2 Edmunds: "trees"
3 Edmunds, Gurney: "would"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

5. All night under the moon [sung text checked 1 time]

All night under the moon
Plovers are flying
Over the dreaming meadows of silvery light,
Over the meadows of June
Calling and crying,
Wandering voices of love in the hush of the night.

All night under the moon
Love, though we are lying
Quietly under the thatch, in the dreaming light
Over the meadows of June
Together we are flying,
Wandering voices of love in the hush of the night.

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Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

6. Nine of the clock [sung text checked 1 time]

Nine of the clock, oh!
Wake my lazy head!
Your shoes of red morocco,
Your silk bedgown;
Rouse, rouse, speck-eyed Mary
From your high bed!
A yawn, a smile, sleepy-starey
Mary climbs down.
"Good-morning to my brothers,
Good-day to the Sun,
Haloo, haloo to the lily white sheep
That up the mountain run."

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. You are my sky [sung text checked 1 time]

You are my sky; beneath your circling kindness
My meadows all take in the light and grow;
Laugh with the joy you've given,
The joy you've given,
And open in a thousand buds, and blow.

But when you are sombre, sad, averse, forgetful,
Heavily veiled by clouds that brood with rain,
Dumbly I lie all shadowed,
I lie all shadowed,
And dumbly wait for you to shine again.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Ha'nacker Mill [sung text checked 1 time]

Sally is gone that was so kindly
Sally is gone from Ha'nacker Hill.
And the Briar grows ever since then so blindly
[ And ever since then the clapper is still,]1
And the sweeps have fallen from Ha'nacker Mill.

Ha'nacker Hill is in Desolation:
Ruin a-top and a field unploughed.
And Spirits that call on a fallen nation
[ Spirits that loved her calling aloud:]1
Spirits abroad in a windy cloud.

Spirits that call and no one answers;
Ha'nacker's down and England's done.
Wind and Thistle for pipe and dancers
And never a ploughman under the Sun.
Never a ploughman. Never a one.

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1 omitted by Warlock.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. When Death to either shall come [sung text checked 1 time]

[When]1 Death to either shall come, -
I pray it be first to me,-
Be happy as ever at home,
If so, as I wish, it be.

Possess thy [heart]2, my own;
And sing to the child on thy knee,
[Or]3 read to thyself alone
The songs [that I]4 made for thee.

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1 Gurney: "If"
2 Gurney: "soul"
3 Gurney: "And"
4 Gurney: "I have"

Researcher for this text: David K. Smythe

10. Cathleen ni Houlihan [sung text checked 1 time]

The old brown thorn-trees break in two high over Cummen Strand,
Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;
Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies,
But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyes
Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The wind has bundled up the clouds high above Knocknarea,
And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say.
Angers that are like noisy clouds have set out hearts abeat;
But we have all bent low and low and kissed the quiet feet
Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The yellow pool has overflowed high up on Clooth-na-Bare,
For the wet winds are blowing out of the clinging air;
Like heavy flooded waters our bodies and our blood;
But purer than a tall candle before the Holy Rood
Is Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]