I was there

Song Cycle by Lee Hoiby (1926 - 2011)

Word count: 496

1. Beginning my studies [sung text checked 1 time]

Beginning my studies the first step pleas'd me so much,
The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion,
The least insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love,
The first step I say awed me and pleas'd me so much,
I have hardly gone and hardly wish'd to go any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time to sing it in ecstatic songs.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. I was there [sung text checked 1 time]

I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times;
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the 
steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight, and gave not back an inch,
  and was faithful of days and faithful of nights,
And chalk'd in large letters, on a board,
  Be of good cheer, we will not desert you:
How he follow'd with them, and tack'd with them three days 
  and would not give it up;
How he saved the drifting company at last:
How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when
  boated from the side of their prepared graves;
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick, 
  and the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men:
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,
I am the man, I suffer'd, I was there.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. A clear midnight [sung text checked 1 time]

This is thy hour, O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death, and the stars.

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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
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Portions of this text were used in Idyll by Frederick Delius.


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. O captain! My captain! [sung text checked 1 time]

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

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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

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

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. 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]