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8.557117 - HOLST: Vedic Hymns / Four Songs, Op. 35 / Humbert Wolfe Settings (English Song, Vol. 6)

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Four songs for voice and violin • Six Songs • Vedic Hymns • Twelve Humbert Wolfe Songs


The English composer Gustav Holst was the son of a musician and descended from a family of mixed Scandinavian, German and Russian origin that had settled in England in the early nineteenth century. His childhood was spent in Cheltenham, where his father supervised his study of the piano. A later period at the Royal College of Music in London brought a lasting friendship with Ralph Vaughan Williams, an association that was to the advantage of both in their free criticism and discussion of one another’s compositions.


It was in part a weakness in health, as well as financial necessity, that prompted Holst for a time to earn his living as a trombonist, touring with the Carl Rosa Opera Company and playing with the Scottish Orchestra. Eventually he decided to devote himself, as far as possible, to composition. Teaching positions, and particularly his long association with St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, and his work as director of music for the enthusiastic amateurs at Morley College, allowed him some time, at least in the summer holidays, but the relatively even tenor of his life, which suited his diffident character, was considerably disturbed by the great popular success of The Planets, which had its first complete public performance in 1920. His later music never achieved such a lasting triumph with the public, although his Shakespearian opera At the Boar’s Head aroused respectful interest at the time, while other works generally had a mixed critical reception, including his 1927 Egdon Heath, published as a tribute to Thomas Hardy. His St Paul’s Suite, written for the school in Hammersmith, retains a firm place in string orchestra repertoire, as does the later Brook Green Suite, and the 1917 Hymn of Jesus for choruses and orchestra has an honourable position in English choral music.


Holst’s later years brought engagements that overtaxed his strength, not least a stimulating and busy period in the United States, where his music was welcomed and where he conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a series of three concerts of his own works and taught and composed during a short period at Harvard, lecturing on Haydn at the Library of Congress in Washington. He also took the opportunity to visit his younger brother Emil, established in America as an actor under the name of Ernest Cossart. By June the following year, 1932, he was in England again, able to entertain his brother, with whom he visited scenes from their childhood. His time in America had brought a temporary break in hospital, and when he returned to England his health was uncertain, leading to periods in hospital. He succeeded, however, in completing the Brook Green Suite and the Lyric Movement for viola and orchestra, written for Lionel Tertis. He died on 25th May 1934, after a major operation, and is buried in Chichester Cathedral, where his music had often been heard, near the grave of his favourite Tudor composer, Thomas Weelkes.


The Four Songs for Voice and Violin, Op.35, were written in 1916-1917 and published in 1920. The spareness of texture, a contrast to the scoring of The Planets, on which he had been working, was suggested by hearing one of his Morley College students, Christine Ratcliffe, singing and accompanying herself on the violin one evening in the church at Thaxted. Holst and his wife had found refuge from London in a cottage nearby, and in 1916 he had established a festival in the church for singers. Three of the songs were first performed there in 1917. The words were taken from A Medieval Anthology by Mary Segar and seemed to suit the composer, whose practical study of Purcell had helped him to an understanding of English word-setting. In the Aeolian mode first song, Jesu sweet, the violin provides an introduction and links between the rhythmically free phrases of the voice part. My soul hath nought but fire and ice is in a transposed Phrygian mode, vestigially accompanied, and followed by I sing of a maiden, again in the Aeolian mode. The set ends with My Leman is so true, a Phrygian setting in which the vocal line is accompanied by a violin counterpart, ending with an E major chord.


Holst’s Six Songs, Op.16, date from 1903-1904, relatively early in the composer’s career. The death of his father had brought Holst a small legacy, which he and his wife decided to spend on a holiday in Germany. On his return, their resources now exhausted, he was invited temporarily to take the place of a singing-teacher at James Allen Girls’ School in Dulwich. His success there was the start of his career in teaching. During this period he became used to the rejection of his compositions by publishers, and some of the group of Six Songs remained unpublished. Calm is the morn sets words from Tennyson’s In Memoriam and is followed by the setting of Philip Sidney’s My true love hath my heart, a song characteristic of its period. Weep you no more suggests in its piano accompaniment the ‘sad fountains’ of the text, while the Breton text Lovely kind and kindly loving is fuller in its romantic texture and more extended range. The set ends with Blake’s Cradle Song, which is impelled forward by the rhythm of its accompaniment, no mere lullaby, and the serenity of Alfred Hyatt’s Peace.


In 1899 Holst had developed a particular interest in Sanskrit literature in translation, the Rig Veda and the Baghavad Gîtâ. Dissatisfied with the translations he found and unable on his own to proceed any further, he began study at the School of Oriental Languages of the London Institution. This eventually enabled him to attempt translations himself, with the aid of a dictionary. His Hymns from the Rig Veda, the Vedic Hymns, Op.24, were written in 1907-1908 and published in 1920. He had already written an opera, Sita, based on Ramayana, and there was to follow, in 1908, a chamber opera, Sâvitri, based on the Mahabarata, followed by a set of choral hymns from the Rig Veda. The first group of the Vedic Hymns starts with Ushas (Dawn), at first accompanied by muted chords, with a more animated central section. Piano chords are used in Varuna (Sky) to introduce and punctuate the hymn, while in Maruts (Storm Clouds) the accompaniment has an illustrative effect in its energetic progress. The second group starts with the stately Indra (God of Storm and Battle), followed by the descending whole-tone scale of Varuna (The Waters) and the irregular metre of Song of the Frogs. The third group begins with Vac (Speech), largely in 5/4, followed by the unaccompanied 7/4 that starts Creation. Faith brings a measure of rhythmic and dynamic tranquillity.


In 1929, after a winter holiday of three months in Italy that did something to restore his strength and spirits, Holst set a group of twelve poems by Humbert Wolfe, whose work he had discovered two years earlier. A meeting with the poet brought friendship, as they shared a number of interests, including a love of the peace that parts of London can bring. The first performance of the songs was given in Paris by Dorothy Silk in a private concert at the house of Louise Dyer, the founder of Editions de l’Oiseau Lyre, after a preceding public concert there had elicited disapproval of Egdon Heath from a vocal section of the audience. In February 1930 Dorothy Silk sang them at the Wigmore Hall in London. The songs came after a gap of twelve years in such compositions and were the last Holst wrote. The irregular rhythms of Persephone give it a feeling of melodic freedom, reflected also in Things lovelier. Now in these fairylands is marked by a descending melody, while there is passing asymmetry in the rhythms of A little music, and The thought leaves the voice largely free. The allusive The floral bandit, with its reference to a Schubert Shakespeare setting and clavichord counterpoint, ends abruptly, as the text suggests. It is succeeded by Envoi, its tranquillity leading to a final climax. The dream-city reflects the poet’s and composer’s shared love of the serenity to be found in London squares, away from the crowd, in the changing seasons. Journey’s end and In the street of lost time meditate on the end of life. To these Rhyme offers a contrast in its delicate accompaniment and light texture. The set ends with the mystery of Betelgeuse.


The gently lyrical Margrete’s Cradle Song, a setting of a translation of Ibsen, was written in 1896 and is one of a set of four songs. It was composed at a time when Holst had found a particular enthusiasm for the plays of Ibsen.


The heart worships was written in 1907, its vocal melody accompanied by a series of repeated chords and breathing an air of utter tranquillity and peace.


Keith Anderson



Four Songs for Voice and Violin, Op.35

Poems from A Medieval Anthology


[1]        Jesu Sweet


Jesu Sweet, now will I sing

To Thee a son, of love longing;

Do in my heart a quick well spring

Thee to love above all thing.


Jesu Sweet, my dim heart’s gleam

Brighter than the sunnèbeam!

As thou wert born in Bethlehem

Make in me thy lovèdream.


Jesu Sweet, my dark heart’s light

Thou art day withouten night;

Give me strength and eke might

For to loven Thee aright.


Jesu Sweet, well may he be

That in Thy bliss Thyself shall see:

With love cords then draw Thou me

That I may come and dwell with Thee.

(Eke = also)



[2]        My soul has nought but fire and ice


My soul has nought but fire and ice

And my body earth and wood:

Pray we all the Most High King

Who is the Lord of our last doom,

That He should give us just one thing

That we may do His will.



[3]        I sing of a maiden


I sing of a maiden

That matchless is.

King of all Kings

Was her Son iwis.

He came all so still,

Where His mother was

As dew in April

That falleth on the grass:


He came all so still,

To His mother’s bower

As dew in April

That falleth on flower.


He came all so still,

Where His mother lay

As dew in April

That formeth on spray.


Mother and maiden

Was ne’er none but she:

Well may such a lady

God’s mother be.

(iwis = certainly)



[4]        My Leman is so true


My Leman is so true

Of love and full steadfast

Yet seemeth ever new

His love is on us cast.


I would that all Him knew

And loved Him firm and fast,

They never would it rue

But happy be at last.


He lovingly abides

Although I stay full long

He will me never chide

Although I choose the wrong.


He says ‘Behold, my side

And why on Rood I hung;

For my love leave thy pride

And I thee underfong’.

I’ll dwell with Thee believe,

Leman, under Thy tree.

May no pain e’er me grieve

Nor make me from Thee flee.


I will in at Thy sleeve

All in Thine heart to be;

Mine heart shall burst and cleave

Ere untrue Thou me see.

(Leman = lover (Christ); underfong = take back)



Six Songs, Op.16


[5]        Calm is the morn

Poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson,

from In Memoriam


Calm is the morn without a sound,

Calm as to suit a calmer grief,

And only thro’ the faded leaf

The chestnut pattering to the ground:


Calm and deep peace on this high wold

And on these dews that drench the furze

And all the silvery gossamers

That twinkle into green and gold:


Calm and still light on yon great plain

That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,

And crowded farms and lessening towers,

To mingle with the bounding main:


Calm and deep peace in this wide air,

These leaves that redden to the fall;

And in my heart, if calm at all,

If any calm, a calm despair:


Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,

And waves that sway themselves in rest,

And dead calm in that noble breast

Which heaves but in the heaving deep.



[6]        My true love hath my heart

Poem by Sir Philip Sidney


My true love hath my heart and I have his,

By just exchange one for the other given:

I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,

There never was a better bargain driven:

My true love hath my heart and I have his.


His heart in me keeps me and him in one,

My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides:

He loves my heart, for once it was his own,

I cherish his because in me it bides:

My true love hath my heart and I have his.



[7]        Weep you no more



Weep you no more, sad fountains!

What need you flow so fast?

Look how the snowy mountains

Heav’n’s sun doth gently waste.

But my sun’s heav’nly eyes

View not your weeping,

That now lies sleeping

Softly, now softly lies,



Sleep is a reconciling,

A rest that peace begets.

Doth not the sun rise smiling

When fair at ev’n he sets.

Rest you then, rest sad eyes!

Melt not in weeping,

While She lies sleeping

Softly, now softly lies,



[8]        Lovely kind and kindly loving

Poem by Nicholas Breton


Lovely kind and kindly loving,

Such a mind were worth the moving,

Truly fair and fairly true

Where are all these but in you?


Wisely kind and kindly wise,

Blessed life where such love lies!

Wise and kind and fair and true,

Lovely live all these in you!


Sweetly dear and dearly sweet,

Blessed where these blessings meet

Sweet, fair, wise, kind, blessed, true

Blessèd be all these in you!



[9]        Cradle Song

Poem by William Blake


Sweet dreams, form a shade

O’er my lovely infant’s head;

Sweet dreams of pleasant streams

By happy, silent, moony beams.


Sweet sleep, with soft down

Weave thy brows an infant crown.

Sweet sleep, Angel mild,

Hover o’er my happy child.


Sweet smiles, in the night

Hover over my delight;

Sweet smiles, Mother’s smile,

All the live long night beguile.


Sweet moans, dove-like sighs,

Chase not slumber from thine eyes.

Sweet moans, sweeter smile,

All the dove-like moans beguile.


[10]     Peace

Poem by Alfred H. Hyatt


The toil of day is done,

Its stress and stirring cease,

Falls soft a word, the gift of God.



Opal of evening sky,

Gold of the fading west,

A single star shining afar.




Vedic Hymns, Op.24

Words translated from the Sanskrit by Gustav Holst

© copyright 1920 J & W Chester Ltd.

All rights reserved, reproduced by permission.



First Group

[11]     Ushas (Dawn)


Behold the Dawn, the fairest of all visions,

Day’s glory now appears.

Arise! For the night hath fled!

Arise and greet the Dawn.

Welcome her! Unveiled she now appeareth,

All things greet her radiant smile.

Borne by wingèd horse and car

She steals across the sky.


Child of heav’n arrayed in shining garments,

Blushing maiden draw thou near:

Sovran lady of earth and sky,

We hail thee as our queen.

Heav’n’s breath awakeneth creation,

The sky is all aflame,

Th’eastern Portals open wide.

The Sun draws nigh.


Greeting thee, the holy fire ascendeth,

Greeting thee, our hymns arise,

Greeting thee, the Sun appeareth,

Greeting thee, thy worshippers

Bow down and bless and adore.



[12]     Varuna I (Sky)


Oh thou great judge, Varuna,

Day after day we break thy holy laws.

Oh let us not be yielded up to Death to be


To be destroyèd in thy wrath.


To gain forgiveness, Varuna,

In deepest woe I raise to thee my chant:

Behold, it riseth up towards thy holy throne to beg

            for mercy,

As flies the bird unto his nest.


Thou knowest all, Varuna,

Thou knowest the pathway of the moon and wind,

Thy laws throughout eternity endure, thou mighty ruler,

And to thy judgement all must come.


He doth appear! My cry is answered!

I am delivered from my sin.



[13]     Maruts (Storm Clouds)


Mighty Warriors,

Children of Thunder,

Glorious Maruts,

Heralds of storm!

Through the gloom

Gathering round us

Ye and your horses

Appear in the sky;

Glowing like flames

From the holy fire

That springs from the altar,

Rising to God.


Flashing sword blades,

Tramping of horses,

Shouting of riders

Fill the sky!

Ye are seen

Spreading a mantle,

Cov’ring the heavens

And hiding the sun.

Then from above ’midst

The lightning’s bright gleam,

Rejoicing in freedom,

Falleth the rain.


Rushing onward

Hurling your weapons,

Chanting your war songs

Nearer ye come!

We would fain

Welcome you fitly,

But faint are our voices

And feeble our lays.

Come then, dwell within us,

With your power inspire our hearts,

Then shall our songs,

Like clouds expanding,

Carry your glory

Throughout the world.



Second Group


[14]     Indra (God of Storm and Battle)


Noblest of songs for the noblest of Gods!

A song that shall reach to the throne of Indra,

The Lord of the sky!


Radiant with light, thou dost ride through the heav’ns.

The Holy Ones rush forth to greet the monarch,

Who ruleth the sky!


Lo! to thy shrine we come, pouring libations.

Swelling like mighty floods, our hymns rise to heav’n,

Yoking thy steeds to thy swift flying chariot,

Bringing thee earthward to aid us in battle,

Filling our hearts with valour and strength,

With strength as of heroes!


Like to the river expanding the sea,

Our loud swelling song shall increase

Thy glory o’er earth and sky.

Lover of sacrifice, lover of singing,

Loud-voiced Thunderer,

Shaker of mountains and Lord of the sky.



[15]     Varuna II (The Waters)


’Fore mine eyes,

Yawning and hungry,

Looms the grave.

Spare me, O great Varuna.

Tossed by winds,

Trembling and faint,

I come to thee.

Spare me, O great Varuna!

Mighty God!

Waters o’erwhelm me

Swiftly rising

Spare me, O great Varuna!

Yet within,

Thirst fiercely burning

Gnaws my heart.

Spare me, O great Varuna.



[16]     Song of the Frogs


Throughout the summer they were lying,

Their skins were scorching in the sun

Now the rain hath wakened their voices,

Their singing hath begun,

And welcoming each other,

They rise and quench their thirst.

And one repeats another’s greeting,

In courtly words polite and mild,

As a scholar learning a lesson,

A father teaching his child.

With eloquence and wisdom

They swell and seem to burst.

‘Brothers rise and join the throng

Our throats are moist and ripe for song

So pray you bellow like a cow,

Or bleat like goat, or grunt like sow.’


Like Brahmans sitting round the altar,

Who loudly talk of holy rite,

Round the pool the frogs are ranging

With speech and song and fight.

Their year-long vow of silence

Hath ended with the Rain.

The joyous earth is now reviving,

The trees and flowers now arise,

And our hearts go forth in gladness

To greet the noisy cries.

The singing of the Frogs

Hath brought wealth to us again.


‘Brothers rise and join the throng

Our throats are moist and ripe for song

So pray you bellow like a cow,

Or bleat like goat, or grunt like sow.’



Third Group


[17]     Vac (Speech)


I, the queen of all,

First of those that mankind worship,

Worthy of all praise,

I proclaim aloud my wisdom.

Hearken unto me,

My word is true:

Unto God and Man

I bring blessing,

Pouring forth my wealth,

Making wise the man I cherish.

Through me each one lives,

Each one breathes and sees and hearkens.

All unite in me,

I alone sustain creation,

Compassing the earth

I reach t’ward heav’n.

In the water’s depth

I have my dwelling,

On the summit of the universe

I bring forth the Father.

Beyond the earth and sky

I reign in my mystic grandeur.



[18]     Creation


Then, Life was not!

Non-life was not!

No vast expanse of air,

Nor vaster realm of sky that lies beyond.

Was water there, the deep abyss of ocean?

Then, Death was not!

Non-death was not!

No change of day and night.

And, cov’ring all, the gloom was lost in gloom.

All was unseen,

One universe unknown.

Then there was One! One alone!

Calm and self-existing:

Beyond and apart was naught.

Then up rose Desire,

Fierce glowing Desire.

The seed of spirit,

The germ of mind,

The source of life,

Begetting mighty forces,

All heaved in restless motion.

Who then knows,

Who can now declare

Whence cometh creation?

He the Primal One whose

Eye controlleth all things,

He alone doth know it,

Or perchance even

He knoweth it not!



[19]     Faith


By Thee the fire doth shine

Upon the sacred altar:

To Thee we raise our song of joy and homage,

Most Holy Faith!


By Thee the gen’rous heart

Is blessed with wealth and wisdom:

To Thee he giveth all in humble gladness,

Most Holy Faith!


By Thee the prayers are heard

That rise in silent worship:

To Thee mankind and God are drawing nearer,

Most Holy Faith!


By Thee inspired, our song

Ascendeth ever higher

To Thee at early morn, at noon, at even,

Most Holy Faith!



Twelve Humbert Wolfe Songs, Op.48


[20]     Persephone


Come back Persephone! As moonflake thin,

Flutes for the dancers you danced with begin.

Leave the deep hellebore the dark, the untranquil

For spring’s pale primrose and her first jonquil.

Again they are singing (O will you not heed them?)

With none now to answer, and none to lead them.

They will grow older, till comes a day

When the last of your maidens is tired of play:

When the song as it rises faints and droops over,

And your playmates go seeking a gentler lover.

Listen, the dancers! The flutes, oh listen!

Hasten, Persephone! Persephone! Hasten!



[21]     Things lovelier


You cannot dream things lovelier

Than the first love I had of her.

Nor air is any as magic shaken

As her breath in the first kiss taken;

And who, in dreaming, understands

Her hands stretched like a blind man’s hands?

Open, trembling, wise they were.

You cannot dream things lovelier.



[22]     Now in these fairylands


Now in these fairylands

Gather your weary hands

Close to your breast,

And be at rest.


Now in these silences

Lean to the cadences,

Moulding their grace

To the line of your face.


Now at the end of all,

Loveliest friend of all,

All things are yours

In this peace that endures.




[23]     A little music


Since it is evening, let us invent

Love’s undiscovered continent.

What shall we steer by, having no chart

But the deliberate fraud of the heart?

How shall we find it? Beyond what keys

Of boyhood’s Spanish piracies,

False Eldorados dim with the tears

Of beauty, the last of the buccaneers?


Since it is evening, let us design

What shall be utterly yours and mine.

There will be nothing that ever before

Beckoned the sailor from any shore.

Trees shall be greener by mountains more pale,

Thrushes outsinging the nightingale,

Flowers now butterflies, now in the grass,

Suddenly quiet as painted glass,

And fishes of emerald dive for the moon,

Whose silver is stained by the peacock lagoon.


Since it is evening, and sailing weather,

Let us set out for the dream together;

Set for the land fall, where love and verse

Enfranchise for ever the travellers.



[24]     The thought


I will not write a poem for you,

Because a poem, even the loveliest,

Can only do what words can do

Stir the air, and dwindle, and be at rest.


Nor will I hold you with my hands,

Because the bones of my hands on yours would


And you’d say after ‘Mortal was,

And crumbling, that lover’s tenderness.’


But I will hold you in a thought

Without moving spirit or desire or will

For I know no other way of loving,

That endures when the heart is still.



[25]     The floral bandit


Beyond the town, oh far! beyond it

She walks that lady have you seen her?

That thief of spring, that floral bandit

Who leaves the grass she walks on greener.


And she can sing, the blackbirds hear her,

Those little coals with throats of flame

And they can find, alighting near her,

No sweeter practice than her name.


What is her name? O ask the linnet,

For human tongue would strive in vain

To speak the buds uncrumpling in it,

And the small language of the rain.


Who is this lady? What is she?

The Sylvia all our swains adore?

Yes, she is that unchangingly,

But she is also something more.


For buds at best are little green

Keys on an old thin clavichord

That only has the one high tune that,

Since the first, all springs have heard.


And all first love with the same sighing

Tunes, though more sweetly touched, has lingered,

As though he were for ever trying

Toccatas Purcell might have fingered.


But no one knows her range nor can

Guess half the phrases of her fiddle,

The lady who for ev’ry man

Breaks off her music in the middle.


[26]     Envoi


When the spark that glittered flakes into ash,

And the spirit unfettered is done with flesh,

When all that wonder, this loveliness of heart

Lies under the sleepy grass,

And slow are the swift, and dark the fair,

And sweet voices lift not on the air,

When the long spell of dust lies on

All that was well bethought upon,

Of all that lovely, of all those brief

Hopes that went bravely beyond belief,

Of life’s deep blazon with love’s gold stain

Passing all reason, doth aught remain?

What need of answer? Bird chaunting priest

Dawn swings her censer of bloom-white mist,

Noon from her shoulder lets her sunshawl

Half loose, half hold her and drifting fall,

And evening slowly by hill and wood

Perfects her holy solitude,

Unasked, undaunted by love, or what

The heart has wanted, and wanteth not.

Unasked? Say rather that these will

Startle tomorrow other hearts with mortal beauty

They had from us, as we inherited that legacy.

Undaunted? Yes, since death can lend

To loveliness only an end

That with the beginning is one designed,

One shape, one meaning, beyond the mind.



[27]     The dream-city


On a dream-hill we’ll build our city,

And we’ll build gates that have two key

Love to let in the vanquished, and pity

To close the locks that shelter these.


There will be quiet open spaces,

And shady towers sweet with bells,

And quiet folks with quiet faces,

Walking among these miracles.

There’ll be a London Square in Maytime

With London lilacs, whose brave light

Startles with coloured lamps the daytime,

With sudden scented wings the night.


A silent Square could but a lonely

Thrush on the lilacs bear to cease

His song, and no sound else save only

The traffic of the heart at peace.


And we will have a river painted

With the dawn’s wistful stratagems

Of dusted gold, and night acquainted

With the long purples of the Thames.


And we will have, oh yes! the gardens

Kensington, Richmond Hill and Kew,

And Hampton, where winter scolds, and pardons

The first white crocus breaking through.


And where the great their greatness squander,

And while the wise their wisdom lose,

Squirrels will leap, and deer will wander,

Gracefully, down the avenues.



[28]     Journey’s end


What will they give me, when journey’s done’

Your own room to be quiet in, Son!

Who shares it with me?

There is none shares that cool dormitory, Son!


Who turns the sheets?

There is but one, and no one needs to turn it, Son!

Who lights the candle?

Ev’ryone sleeps without candle all night, Son!


Who calls me after sleeping?

Son! You are not called when journey’s done.



[29]     In the street of lost time


Rest and have ease;

Here are no more voyages;

Fold, fold your narrow pale hands;

And under the veil of night lie,

As I have seen you lie in your deep hair;

But patiently now that new loves,

New days, have gone their ways.


[30]     Rhyme


Rhyme is your clear chime we hear

Ringing, far-off and clear,

In beauty’s fairy granges

At evensong the changes

And swells of her lost elfin-bells.

You glimmering through, astir,

Wander a lamplighter,

Kindling that lamp and this

Of long-quenched memories

With blaze of their auto-da-fés,

Numbers the soul remembers,

(And moved among them

When the Sons of Morning sung them)

You echo,

While the dim shadow

Of Seraphim half floats

Among your muted notes.

Tamer of love’s sweet grammar you parse,

And change his nouns to stars,

His verbs you conjugate,

So that they vanish straight from time,

And lift a moonlit paradigm.

Rhyme by your clear chime

We climb, clean out of space and time,

And the small earth behind us

Can neither lose nor find us,

Set free in your eternity.




[31]     Betelgeuse


On Betelgeuse the gold leaves hang in golden


For twice a hundred million miles,

And twice a hundred million years

They golden hang and nothing stirs,

On Betelgeuse.


Space is a wind that does not blow

On Betelgeuse and time is a bird,

Whose wings have never stirred

The golden avenues of leaves

On Betelgeuse.


On Betelgeuse there is nothing that joys or grieves

The unstirred multitude of leaves,

Nor ghost of evil or good

Haunts the gold multitude

On Betelgeuse.


And birth they do not use

Nor death on Betelgeuse,

And the God, of whom we are infinite dust,

Is there a single leaf of those gold leaves

On Betelgeuse.



[32]     Margrete’s Cradle Song, Op.4, No.2

English translation of Ibsen by

William Archer


Now roof and rafters blend with the starry vault on high,

Now flieth little Hakon on dream-wings through the sky.

There mounts a mighty stairway from earth to God’s own land

There Hakon with the angels goes climbing, hand in hand.

God’s angel-babes are watching thy cot, the still night through,

God bless thee, little Hakon, thy mother watcheth too.



[33]     The heart worships


Silence in Heav’n,

Silence on Earth

Silence within!

Thy hush, O Lord,

O’er all the world covers the din.

I do not fear to speak of thee in mortal kind

And yet to all thy namelessness I am not blind.

Only I need and kneel again

Thy touch to win;

Silence in Heav’n

Silence on Earth

Silence within!

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