Part 5

Set by Henry Houseley (1852? - 1925), "Part 5", published 1917 [ soli, chorus, orchestra ], from cantata Omar Khayyám, no. 5, New York : H. W. Gray  [sung text checked 1 time]

Note: this setting is made up of several separate texts.


I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some [letter]1 of that After-life to spell,
And by and by my Soul return'd to me
And answer'd: I myself am Heav'n and Hell.

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1 Lehmann: "secret"

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Heav'n but the vision of fulfilled Desire
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which ourselves,
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.

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We are no other than a moving row
Of [Magic Shadow-shapes]1 that come and go
Round with this Sun-illumin'd Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

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2 second edition: "visionary Shapes"

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But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays;
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

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The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There, as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd you down into the Field,
He knows about it all -- HE knows --- HE knows!

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The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

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And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help -- for it
As impotently moves as you or I.

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Perplext no more with Human or Divine, 
To-morrow's tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of 
The Cypress-slender Minister of Wine.

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And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press, 
End in what All begins and ends in -- Yes;
Think then you are TO-DAY what YESTERDAY 
You were -- TO-MORROW you shall not be less.

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So when [the]1 Angel of the darker Drink
At last shall find you by the river-brink,
And, offering his Cup, invite your Soul
Forth to your Lips to quaff -- you shall not shrink.

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1 Houseley, Lehmann: "that"

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[Why,]1 if the Soul can fling the Dust aside
And naked on the air of Heaven ride,
Were't not a shame -- were't not a shame for him
In this clay carcase crippled to abide?

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1 Lehmann: "But"

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'Tis but a Tent where takes his one-day's rest
A sultan to the realm of Death addrest;
The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrásh
Strikes, and prepares it for another guest.

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And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
The Eternal Sáki from that Bowl has pour'd 
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

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When you and I behind the veil are past
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last --
Which of our Coming and Departure heeds
As the Sea's self should heed a pebble-cast.

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