Songs at Parting: A Selection of Walt Whitman's Poems

Song Cycle by Ernst Bacon (1898 - 1990)

Word count: 538

1. Grand is the seen [sung text checked 1 time]

Grand is the seen, the light, to me -- grand are the sky and stars,
Grand is the earth, and grand are lasting time and space,
And grand their laws, so multiform, puzzling, evolutionary;
But grander far the unseen soul of me, comprehending, endowing all those,
Lighting the light, the sky and stars, delving the earth, sailing the sea,
(What were all those, indeed, without thee, unseen soul? of what amount without thee?)
More evolutionary, vast, puzzling, O my soul!
More multiform far -- more lasting thou than they.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The last invocation [sung text checked 1 time]

1
At the last, tenderly,
From the walls of the powerful, fortress'd house,
From the clasp of the knitted locks --
  from the keep of the well-closed doors,
Let me be wafted.

2
Let me glide noiselessly forth;
With the key of softness unlock the locks -- with a whisper,
Set [ope]1 the doors, O Soul!

3
Tenderly! be not impatient!
(Strong is your hold, O mortal flesh!
Strong is your hold, O Love.)

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1 Bacon: "up"; Pederson: "open"

Research team for this text: Ted Perry , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. Darest thou now O soul [sung text checked 1 time]

Darest thou now O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet
   nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh,
   nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not O Soul;
Nor dost thou -- all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream'd of, in that region,
   [that inaccessible land]1.

Till when the [ties loosen]2,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense,
   nor any bounds, [bound]3 us.

Then we burst forth -- we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul, prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last, -- 
   (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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Note: the indented lines have been broken off from the preceding lines so that parallel translations will be easier to see. This poem has five stanzas of three lines each.

1 W. Schuman: "the inaccessible land,/ The unknown region."
2 Bacon: "tie is loosened"
3 Bacon: "bounding"

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

4. Twilight [sung text checked 1 time]

The soft voluptuous opiate shades,
The sun just gone, the eager light dispell'd -- (I too will soon be
gone, dispell'd,)
A haze -- nirwana -- rest and night -- oblivion. 

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. One thought ever at the fore [sung text checked 1 time]

One thought ever at the fore -
That in the Divine Ship, the World, breasting Time and Space,
All Peoples of the globe together sail, sail the same voyage,
Are bound to the same destination.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Joy, shipmate, joy! [sung text checked 1 time]

Joy, shipmate, joy!
(Pleas'd to my soul at death I cry,)
Our life is closed, our life begins,
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore,
Joy, shipmate, joy.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , "Alegra’t company de bord, alegra’t!", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. Whispers of heavenly death [sung text checked 1 time]

Whispers of heavenly death murmur'd I hear,
Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals,
Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes wafted soft and low,
Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flowing, forever flowing,
(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human tears?)

I see, just see skyward, great cloud-masses,
Mournfully slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing,
With at times a half-dimm'd sadden'd far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

(Some parturition rather, some solemn immortal birth;
On the frontiers to eyes impenetrable,
Some soul is passing over.)

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

8. The sobbing of the bells [sung text checked 1 time]

The sobbing of the bells, the sudden death-news everywhere, 
The slumberers rouse, the rapport of the People, 
(Full well they know that message in the darkness, 
Full well return, respond within their breasts, their brains, the sad reverberations,) 
The passionate toll and clang - city to city, joining, sounding, passing,
Those heart-beats of a Nation in the night.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]