Text and poems set to music by Thomas Oboe Lee.  

Corso's Marriage (2011) 
Poem by Gregory Corso
1. Should I get married? Should I be Good?
Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?
 Don't take her to movies but to cemeteries
tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
 and she going just so far and I understanding why
 not getting angry saying You must feel! It's beautiful to feel!
Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky--
When she introduces me to her parents
back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
should I sit knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
and not ask Where's the bathroom?
How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Flash Gordon soap--
O how terrible it must be for a young man
seated before a family and the family thinking
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
 After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?
Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
Say All right get married, we're losing a daughter
but we're gaining a son--
And should I then ask Where's the bathroom?

2. O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
just waiting to get at the drinks and food--
And the priest! he looking at me as if I masturbated
asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
She's all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on—
then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
All streaming into cozy hotels
All going to do the same thing tonight
The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
The lobby zombies they knowing what
The whistling elevator man he knowing
The winking bellboy knowing
Everybody knowing! I'd be almost inclined not to do anything!
Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
running rampant into those almost climatic suites
yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
O I'd live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
I'd sit there the Mad Honeymooner
devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of bigamy
a saint of divorce--
But I should get married I should be good.

3. How nice it'd be to come home to her
and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
aproned young and lovely wanting my baby
and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
God what a husband I'd make! Yes, I should get married!

4. Yet if I should get married and it's Connecticut and snow
and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
knowledged with responsibility
O what would that be like!
Surely I'd give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
For a rattle a bag of broken Bach records
Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon
No, I doubt I'd be that kind of father
not rural not snow no quiet window
but hot smelly New York City
seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
And five nose running brats in love with Batman
And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
like those hag masses of the 18th century
all wanting to come in and watch TV
[And] the landlord wants his rent
Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
Impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking--
No! I should not get married and I should never get married!
But--imagine if I were to marry a beautiful sophisticated woman
tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
holding a cigarette holder in one hand and highball in the other
and we lived high up a penthouse with a huge window
from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
No I can't imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream—

5. O but what about love? I forget love
not that I am incapable of love
it's just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes—
I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
And there’s maybe a girl now but she's already married
And I don't like men and--

6. But there's got to be somebody!
Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,
all alone in furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
and everybody else is married! All in the universe married but me!
Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
then marriage would be possible--
Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
so I wait--bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.

Part The First ... THOU mastering me God! (2010)

First ten stanzas from the epic poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

THOU mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.

I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.

The frown of his face
Before me, the hurtle of hell
Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
I whirled out wings that spell
And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.

I am soft sift
In an hourglass—at the wall
Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
And it crowds and it combs to the fall;
I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall
Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ’s gift.

I kiss my hand
To the stars, lovely-asunder
Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
Glow, glory in thunder;
Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
Since, tho’ he is under the world’s splendour and wonder,
His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.
Not out of his bliss
Springs the stress felt
Nor first from heaven (and few know this)
Swings the stroke dealt—
Stroke and a stress that stars and storms deliver,
That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by and melt—
But it rides time like riding a river
(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable and miss).

It dates from day
Of his going in Galilee;
Warm-laid grave of a womb-life grey;
Manger, maiden’s knee;
The dense and the driven Passion, and frightful sweat;
Thence the discharge of it, there its swelling to be,
Though felt before, though in high flood yet—
What none would have known of it, only the heart, being hard at bay,

Is out with it! Oh,
We lash with the best or worst
Word last! How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe
Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,
Gush!—flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet,
Brim, in a flash, full!—Hither then, last or first,
To hero of Calvary, Christ, ’s feet—
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it—men go.

Be adored among men,
God, three-numberèd form;
Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
Man’s malice, with wrecking and storm.
Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
Thou art lightning and love, I found it, a winter and warm;
Father and fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.

With an anvil-ding
And with fire in him forge thy will
Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring
Through him, melt him but master him still:
Whether at once, as once at a crash Paul,
Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
Make mercy in all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King.

DE PROFUNDIS (2010)      

Text excerpted from Oscar Wilde's book-length letter to Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas.

Dear Bosie:

After a long and fruitless waiting of two years without a single line from you I am determined to write to you myself.  As I sit here in Reading Gaol after a trial and sentence that has brought me public ruin and infamy, the memory of our affection is often with me. Yet I will begin by telling you that I blame myself for allowing such a friendship as ours, devoid of all intellect and based solely on pleasure, to dominate my life.  To think that loathing, bitterness and contempt should forever take the place in my heart once held by love is very sad to me.  But as I look back over our time together I realize that you were destructive to my work as an artist.
Drama, novel, poem in prose, poem in rhyme, subtle or fantastic dialogue, whatever I touched I made beautiful.  I made Art a philosophy and philosophy an Art. I had the ability to alter the minds of men.
Nevertheless, during the entire time we were together, because of your constant claim on my attention and time, I never wrote a single line.  As long as you were by my side my life was entirely sterile and uncreative. The basis of character is will power and mine became subject to yours.  In your case one had to either give up to you, or give you up.  There was no alternative. You even convinced and goaded me into a libel suit against your father. The consequences of these actions leave me in tears in this terrible place.  But I must keep love within me, or how else should I live another day?  Love is fed by the imagination, by which we become wiser than we know, better than we feel, nobler than we are.  Only what is fine and finely conceived can feed love.  But anything will feed hate. 

Hate blinds people.  You were not aware of that.  Subtly, silently, and in secret, Hate gnawed at your nature.  Your terrible lack of imagination, the one really fatal defect of your character, was entirely the result of the Hate that lived in you.  That faculty in you which Love would have fostered, Hate poisoned and paralysed.  The aim of Love is to love, no more, no less.  For my own sake there was nothing for me to do but to love you.   I knew, if I allowed myself to hate you, that in the dry desert of existence over which I had to travel, and am traveling still, every rock would lose its shadow, every palm tree be withered, every well of water prove poisoned at its source.  Are you beginning now to understand a little?  Is it beginning to dawn on you what love is?  It is not too late for you to learn, though to teach it to you I may have had to go to a convict’s cell.
After my terrible sentence, when the prison dress was on me, and the prison house closed, I sat amidst the ruins of my wonderful life, crushed by anguish, bewildered with terror, dazed by pain.  But I would not hate you.   No matter what your conduct was to me, I always felt that at heart you loved me far better than anyone else.  But you, like myself, have had a terrible tragedy in your life, though one of an entirely opposite character to mine.  In you hate was always stronger than love.  Your hatred of your father was of such stature that it entirely outstripped, overthrew and overshadowed your love of me.  You did not realize there was no room for both passions in the same soul.
And the end of it all is that I have got to forgive you.  I must do so.  I don’t write this letter to put bitterness in your heart, but to pluck it out of mine.  “Forgive your enemies” is not for the sake of the enemies, but for one’s own sake because Love is more beautiful than Hate.

I am to be released, if all goes well with me, towards the end of May.  I know that much is waiting for me outside that is very delightful, from what St. Francis of Assisi calls “my brother the wind, and my sister the rain,” down to the shop-windows and sunsets of great cities.   I hope to be with my friends, and to gain, in their healthful and affectionate company, peace, and balance, and a less troubled heart, and a sweeter mood.  I have a strange longing for the great simple primeval things, such as the Sea, to me no less of a mother than the Earth.
I tremble with pleasure when I think that on the very day of my leaving here both the laburnum and the lilac will be blooming in the gardens, and that I shall see the wind stir into restless beauty the swaying gold of one and make the other toss the pale purple of its plume.  For me, to whom flowers are part of desire, there are tears waiting in the petals of some rose.
The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens, star by star, there still remains oneself.  Perhaps I am chosen to teach you something much more wonderful: the meaning of sorrow and its beauty.


Six poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

1. Song of the Nations

Out of
Night and alarm
Out of
Darkness and dread,
Out of old hate,
Grudge and distrust,
Sin and remorse,
Passion and blindness;
Shall come
Dawn and the birds,
Shall come
Slacking of greed,
Snapping of fear-------
Love shall fold warm like a cloak
Round the shuddering earth
Till the sound of its woe cease.

Terrible dreams,
crying in sleep,
Grief beyond thought,
Twisting of hands,
Tears from shut lids
Wetting the pillow;
Shall come
Sun on the wall,
Shall come sounds from the street,
Children at play---
Bubbles too big blown, and dreams
Filled too heavy with horror
Will burst and in mist fall.

Sing then,
You who were dumb,
Shout then
Into the dark;
Are we not one?
Are not our hearts
Hot from one fire,
And in one mold cast?
Out of
Night and alarm,
Out of
Terrible dreams,
Reach me your hand,
This is the meaning of all that we
Suffered in sleep, ---the white peace
Of the waking.

2. Daphne

Why do you follow me?
Any moment I can be
Nothing but a laurel-tree.

Any moment of the chase
I can leave you in my place
A pink bough for your embrace.

Yet if over hill and hollow
Still it is your will to follow,
I am off; ---to heel, Apollo!

3. Never May the Fruit Be Plucked

Never, never may the fruit be plucked from the bough
And gathered into barrels.
He that would eat of love must eat where it hangs.
Though the branches bend like reeds,
Though the ripe fruit splash in the grass or wrinkle on the tree,
He that would eat of love may bear away from him
Only what his belly can hold,
Nothing in the apron,
Nothing in the pockets.
Never, never may the fruit be gathered from the bough
And harvested in barrels.
The winter of love is the cellar of empty bins,
In an orchard soft with rot.

4. Hyacinth

I am in love with him to whom the hyacinth is dearer
Than I shall ever be dear.
On nights when the field-mice are abroad he cannot sleep;
He hears their narrow teeth at the bulbs of his hyacinths,
But the gnawing at my heart he does not hear.

5. Justice Denied in Massachusetts

Let us abandon then our gardens and go home
And sit in the sitting-room.
Shall the larkspur blossom or the corn grow under this cloud?
Sour to the fruitful seed
Is the cold earth under this cloud,
Fostering quack and weed, we have marched upon but cannot conquer;
We have bent the blades of our hoes against the stalks of them.

Let us go home, and sit in the sitting-room.
Not in our day
Shall the cloud go over and the sun rise as before,
Beneficent upon us
Out of the glittering bay,
And the warm winds be blown inward from the sea
Moving the blades of corn
With a peaceful sound.
Forlorn, forlorn,
Stands the blue hay-rack by the empty mow.
And the petals drop to the ground,
Leaving the tree unfruited.
The sun that warmed our stooping backs and withered the weed uprooted---
We shall not feel it again.
We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain.

What from the splendid dead
We have inherited---
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued---
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.

Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children’s children this beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.

6. This Dusky Faith

Why, then, weep not,
Since naught’s to weep.

Too wild, too hot
For a dead thing,
Altered and cold,
Are these long tears:
To the sovereign force
Of the pulling past
What you cannot hold
Is reason’s course.

Wherefore, sleep.

Or sleep to the rocking
Rather, of this:
The silver knocking
Of the moon’s knuckles
At the door of the night;
Death here becomes
Being, nor truckles
To the sun, assumes
Light as its light.

So, too, this dusky faith
In Man, transcends its death,
Shines out, gains emphasis;
Shorn of the tangled past,
Shows its fine skull at last,
Cold, lovely satellite.

Copyright © 1923, 1928, 1939, 1940, 1951, 1955, 1967, 1968 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis.
Text used by permission of Elizabeth Barnett and Holly Peppe, Literary Executors, the Millay Society

Walden, opus 123 (2008)  

Text-libretto excerpted from Henry David Thoreau's WALDEN.

1.  Economy. 

“When I wrote the following pages, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from my neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts.  There I lived two years and two months. 

Near the end of March 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall, arrowy white pines, still in their youth, for timber.  It was a pleasant hillside where I worked, covered with pine-woods, through which I looked out on the pond.  The ice on the pond was not yet dissolved, though there were some open spaces, and it was all dark-colored and saturated with water.

They were pleasant spring days, in which the winter of man’s discontent was thawing as well as the earth, and life that had lain torpid began to stretch itself.  By the middle of April my house was framed and ready for the raising. I dug my cellar in the side of a hill sloping to the south, down through sumach and blackberry roots, and the lowest stain of vegetation, six feet square by seven deep, to a fine sand where potatoes would not freeze in any winter. The sides were left shelving, and not stoned; but the sun having never shone on them, the sand still keeps its place. It was but two hour’s work. I took particular pleasure in this breaking of ground, for in almost all latitudes men dig into the earth for an equable temperature. 

At length, in the beginning of May, I set up the frame of my house.  I began to occupy my house on the 4th of July, as soon as it was boarded and roofed.
Before winter I built a chimney, and shingled the sides of my house, which were already impervious to rain. I have thus a tight shingled and plastered house, ten feet wide by fifteen long, and eight-feet posts, with a garret and a closet, a large window on each side, two trap-doors, one door at the end, and a brick fireplace opposite.  The exact cost of my house, paying the usual price for such materials as I used, but not counting the work, all of which was done by myself, was as follows:

Boards                                                              $8 03 ½, mostly shanty boards
Refuse shingles for roof and sides              $4 00
Laths                                                                 $1 25
Two second-hand windows with glass       $2 43
One thousand old bricks                               $4 00
Two casks of lime                                           $2 40    That was high.
Hair                                                                  $0 31    More than I needed.
Mantle-tree iron                                            $0 15
Nails                                                                 $3 90
Hinges and screws                                         $0 14
Latch                                                                $0 10
Chalk                                                                $0 01
Transportation                                              $1 40    I carried a good part on my back.

In all                                                                 $28 12 ½”

2.  Sounds. 

First instrumental interlude: Thoreau describes the sounds around the pond – both natural and man-made.  He writes, “The Fitchburg Railroad touches the pond about a hundred rods south of where I dwell … The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk … ”

3.  Solitude.

“This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore.  I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself.  As I walked along the stony shore of the pond in my shirtsleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me.  The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water.

Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes.  The repose is never complete.  The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, the skunk, the rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear.  They are Nature’s watchmen, --- links which connect the days of animated life.”

4.  The Village. 

Second instrumental interlude: Thoreau writes, “Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs.”  “It was very pleasant, when I stayed in town, to launch myself into the night, especially if it was dark and tempestuous, and set sail from some bright village parlor or lecture room, … ”

5.  Brute Neighbors.

“I was witness to events of a less peaceful character.  One day when I went out to my wood pile, or rather my pile of stumps, I observed two large ants, the one red, the other much larger, nearly half an inch long, and black, fiercely contending with one another.  Looking farther, I was surprised to find that the chips were covered with such combatants, that it was not a duellum, but bellum, a war between two races of ants; internecine war; the red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other.

I watched a couple that were fast locked in each other’s embrace, in a little sunny valley amid the chips, now at noonday prepared to fight till the sun went down, or life went out.   They fought with more pertinacity than bulldogs.  Neither manifested the least disposition to retreat.  It was evident that their battle-cry was “Conquer or die.”

In the meanwhile there came along a single red ant on the hillside of this valley, evidently full of excitement.  He saw this unequal combat from afar, ---for the blacks were nearly twice the size of the reds, ---he drew near with rapid pace till he stood on his guard within half an inch of the combatants; then, watching his opportunity, he sprang upon the black warrior, and commenced his operation near the root of his right fore legs; and so there were three united for life, as if a new kind of attraction had been invented which put all other locks and cements to shame. 

I should not have wondered by this time to find that they had their respective musical bands stationed on some eminent chip, and playing their national airs the while, to excite the slow and cheer the dying combatants.  I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men.  The more you think of it, the less the difference.  And certainly there is not the fight recorded in Concord history, at least, if in the history of America, that will bear a moment’s comparison with this, whether for the numbers engaged in it, or for the patriotism and heroism displayed.”

6.  The Pond in Winter. 

Third instrumental interlude: Thoreau writes, “Ah, the pickerel of Walden! when I see them lying on the ice, or in the well which the fisherman cuts in the ice, making a little hole to admit the water. I am always surprised by their rare beauty, as if they were fabulous fishes, they are so foreign to the streets, even to the woods, foreign as Arabia to our Concord life.  They possess a quite dazzling and transcendent beauty which separates them by a wide interval from cadaverous cod and haddock whose fame is trumpeted in our streets.  They are not green like the pines, nor gray like the stones, nor blue like the sky; but they have, to my eyes, if possible, yet rarer colors, like flowers and precious stones, as if they were pearls, the animalized nuclei or crystal of the Walden water.  They, of course, are Walden all over and all through; are themselves small Waldens in the animal kingdom, Waldenses.“

7.  Conclusion.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.  He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him, or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with a license of a higher order of beings.  In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put a foundation under them.”

Mechthild von Magdeburg: Minnelieder an got (2005)

From “Das Fließende Licht der Gottheit” by Mechthild von Magdeburg (ca. 1210-1282)


I.    Prayer

Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast gesuchet mit diner demutekeit.
We praise you, Lord, that you have sought us out in your humility.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast behalten mit diner barmeherzekeit.
We praise you, Lord, that you have harbored us with your mercy.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast geheret mit diner [güete.]
We praise you, Lord, that you have glorified us with your kindness.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast gefuoret mit diner miltekeit.
We praise you, Lord, that you have nourished us with your bounty.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast geordent mit diner wisheit.
We praise you, Lord, that you have instructed us with your wisdom.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast beschirmet mit diner gewalt.
We praise you, Lord, that you have sheltered us with your might.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast gehelget mit diner edelkeit.
We praise you, Lord, that you have sanctified us with your grandeur.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast gewiset mit diner heimlichkeit.
We praise you, Lord, that you have shown us the path with your intimacy.
Wir loben dich, herre, das du úns hast gehoehet mit diner minne.
We praise you, Lord, that you have ennobled us with your love.

II.   Recitative

Seiest wilkomen, liebú tube,
Welcome, precious dove,
Du hast so sere geflogen in dem ertriche,
So far and wide have you flown in this earthly realm
Das dine vedern sint gewahsen in das himelriche.
that your feathers have expanded into the kingdom of heaven.
Du smekest als ein wintrúbel,
Your taste is that of a grape from the vineyard,
Du rúchest als ein balsam,
Your fragrance is that of balsam,
Du lúhtest als dú sunne,
You shimmer as does the sun,
Du bist ein zuonemunge miner hoehsten minne.
You are the increase of my most exalted love.

III.   Aria

O du giessender got an diner gabe,
O you God who spills over with your gifts,
O du vliessender got an diner minne,
O you God who flows with your love,
O du brennender got an diner gerunge,
O you God who burns with your desire,
O du smelzender got an der einunge mit dinem liebe,
O you God who melts in the union with your beloved,
O du ruowender got minen brústen!
O you God who finds repose on my breasts!
Ane dich ich nút wesen mag!
Without you I cannot live on!

O du schoene rose in dem dorne,
O you rose lovely amongst the thorns,
O du vliegendes bini in dem honge,
O you bee darting about in the honey,
O du reinú tube an dinem wesende,
O you dove pure in your essence,
O du schoenú sunne an dinem schine,
O you sun lovely in your radiance,
O du voller mane an dinem stande!
O you full moon in your grandeur!
Ich mag mich nit von dir gekeren.
From you I cannot turn aside.

IV.   Chorale

In der groesten sterki kumt si von ir selber,
In the greatest strength she loses herself,
In dem schoensten liehte ist si blint an ir selber
In the loveliest light she is blind even to herself,
Und in der groesten blintheit sihet si allerklarost.
And in the greatest blindness she sees most clearly.
In der groesten klarheit ist si beide tot und lebende.
In the most boundless clarity she is both living and dead.

V.   Meditation

Ie si langer tot ist, ie si vroelicher lebt;
The longer she is dead, the more joyously she lives;
Ie si vroelicher lebt, ie si mer ervert;
The more joyously she lives, the more she embraces;
Ie si minner wirt, ie ir mer zuoflússet;
The more she withers, the more flows to her;
Ie si sich mere vorhtet.
The more she lives in fear.
Ie si richer wirt, ie si armer ist;
The more wealth she accrues, the more destitute she is;
Ie si tieffer wonet, ie si breiter ist;
The more basely she dwells, the more expansive she is;
Ie si gebietiger ist.
The greater is her dominion.
Ie si me arbeitet, ie si sanfter ruowet;
The more she toils, the more gently does she find rest;
Ie si me begriffet.
The more she comprehends.
Ie sin lust me wahset,
The more his longing grows,
Ie ir [hochzit] groesser wirt;
The more bounteous their festival becomes;
Ie das minnebet enger wirt,
The more cramped the love-bed becomes,
Ie die umbehalsunge naher gat;
The more intimate the embrace;
Ie das muntkússen suesser smekket,
The sweeter the taste of their lips,
Ie si sich minneclicher ansehent;
The more lovingly do they behold one another;

Ie si sich noeter scheident,
The more anguished is their parting,
Ie mer er ir gibet;
The more abundant is his gift to her;
Ie me si verzert, ie me si hat;
The more she consumes, the more she does have;
Ie si demueteklicher urlop nimt,
The more humbly she takes her leave,
Ie e si wider kumt;
The sooner does she return;
Ie si heisser blibet,
The more ardent she remains,
Ie si e entfunket;
The sooner does she break out in flames;
Ie si mere brennet, ie si schoener lúhtet;
The more she burns, the more splendidly does she glimmer;
Ie gottes lob mer gebreitet wirt,
The more widespread God’s praise is made,
Ie ir girheit groesser blibet.
The more fervent remains her longing.

Symphony No. 6 ... The Penobscot River (2004)

I-a.  To the Penobscot, Now!

John Edward Godfrey, April 11, 1845.

Old Winter soon will loose his hand from thee, thou noble stream!
His arm is wasting daily, and will be, early, a dream.

Oft on the leprous limb I fix my eyes, and wish it gone,
that I may watch thy rest-less bosom’s rise, as thou mov’st  on.

That I may see thy dazzling surface flecked with glistening sails,
and thy rich valley’s wealth float down un-checked by ad-verse gales.

That I may hear the sailor’s song again; the dash of oars;
and watch the stirring forms of busy men that pace thy shores.

And then I feel, ‘tis but a fleeting day that intervenes,
and hides from me this beautiful array of stirring scenes.

John Edward Godfrey (1809-1884) was one of Bangor's most prominent citizens of the 19th century.
He began practicing law in Bangor in 1837, served on the city council from 1840 to 1847, and as probate judge from 1856 to 1881.
He helped found the Bangor Historical Society and served as its president until his death in 1884, during which time he was credited with being the foremost historian of eastern Maine.
He was also a passionate antislavery advocate.

Centennial Celebration of the Settlement of Maine, September 30, 1869.
Benjamin A Burr, Printer, 1870.

I-b. Mrs. E.L. Crosby: Ice of the Penobscot.

To the seas!  The sea! Thou last of the winter hoary;
For the summer draws nigh, in glory, with beams too bright for thee.

To the ocean go!  Thou chain of winding river,
And try, over that which resteth never the band of thy strength to throw.

Ha!  Thou!  Wilt thou be a covering over the grand commotion?
How the ever-foaming rejoicing ocean will laugh at a mote like thee!

Yet onward!  Rush on, as the winds and the waves may guide thee.
Rush on, where tossing and wasting abide thee;
Chain of our river, be gone!

Centennial Celebration of the Settlement of Maine, September 30, 1869. 
Benjamin A Burr, Printer, 1870.

II. Instrumental interlude: La Valse

III-a. Henry David Thoreau: Ktaadn 

Nature was here something savage and awful,
though beautiful. 
I look with awe at the ground I trod on,
to see what the Powers had made there,
the form and fashion and material of their work.

This is that Earth of which we have heard,
made out of Chaos and Old Night.
Here was no man’s gar-den.
It was not lawn,
nor pasture.
Nor mead,
nor woodland,
nor lea,
nor arable,
nor waste land.

It was fresh and natural surface of the planet Earth,
as it was made forever and ever,
to be the dwelling of man.
It was Matter, vast, terrific,
not his Mother Earth that we have heard of,
not for him to tread on,
or be buried in.
No, it were being too familiar even to let his bones lie there.

There was clearly felt the presence of a force not bound to be kind to man. 
It was a place for heathenism and superstitious rites,
to be inhabited by men nearer of kin to the rocks and to wild animals than we.
I stand in awe of my body,
This matter to which I am bound has be-come so strange to me.
I fear not spirits, ghosts, of which I am one,
that my body might,
but I fear bodies, I tremble to meet them.

What is this Titan that has possession of me?
Talk of mysteries!
Think of our life in nature,
daily to be shown matter,
to come in contact with it!
The solid earth!
The actual world!
The common sense!
Contact! Contact!
Who are we?
Where are we?

"The Maine Woods"
Henry David Thoreau
Ticknor & Fields, 1864.

III-b. J.G. Whittier: The Logger’s Boast

Come, all ye sons of freedom throughout the State of Maine,
Come, all ye gallant lumbermen, and listen to my strain;
On the banks of the Penobscot, where the rapid waters flow,
O!  we’ll range the wild woods over, and a lumbering will go;
And a lumbering we’ll go, so a lumbering will go,
O!  we’ll range the wild woods over, and a lumbering will go.

When the white frost gilds the valleys, the cold congeals the flood;
When many men have naught to do to earn their fam’lies' bread;
When the swollen streams are frozen, and the hills are clad with snow,
O!  we’ll range the wild woods over, and a lumbering will go.

The music of our burnished ax shall make the woods re-sound,
And many a lofty ancient Pine will tumble to the ground;
Round our good camp-fire we'll sing while rude winds blow;
O!  we’ll range the wild woods over, and a lumbering will go.

And when upon the long-hid soil the white Pine disappear,
We'll cut the other forest trees, and sow whereon we clear;
Our grain shall wave o’er valleys rich, our herds bedot the hills;
When our feet no more are hurried on to tend the driving mills;
Then nor more a lumbering go, so no more a lumbering go;
When our feet no more are hurried on to tend the driving mills.

When our youthful days are ended, we will cease from winter toils,
And each one through the summer warm will till the virgin soil;
We’ve enough to eat, to drink, to wear, content through life to go;
Then we’ll tell our wild adventures again, and no more a lumbering go;
And no more a lumbering go.

"Forest Life and Forest Trees"
John S. Springer
Harper & Brothers, Publishers
82 Cliff Street, New York, 1851.

IV. Instrumental interlude: A Drunken Polka

V-a.    The Death of Thoreau’s Guide

The strangest monument a man ever had in sacred memory;
A pair of old boots. 
For a token of respect and admiration,
love and lasting grief;
Just a pair of old river-driver’s boots hung on a pin-knot of a pine.   
Big and buckled;
bristling all over the sole with wrought steel calks;
Gashed at the toes to let the water out;
slashed about the tops into fringes with the tally of his sea-son’s work;
Less only the day which saw him die.
Reddened by water,
cracked by the sun;
worn-out, weather-rotting old boots;
Hanging for years on the pine-tree,
disturbed by no one.
The river-drivers tramped back and forth beneath them;
a red-shirted multitude.
They boated along the pond in front and drove their logs past,
year after year;
They looked at the trees with the big cross cut deep in its scaly bark,
and always left the boots hanging on the limb.

They were the Governor’s boots,
Joe Attien’s boots.
They belong to Thoreau’s guide.

"The Penobscot Man"
Fannie Hardy Eckstorm.
Jordan-Frost Printing Co.
Bangor, Maine, 1924.
© Fannie Hardy Eckstrom, 1904.

V-b.     Miss Selma W. Paine: Centennial Hymn.   

God bless our city Bangor now!
On this its birthday morn.
A hundred years have swiftly come.
A hundred years have gone.

And still, it feels the blood of youth;
through all its limbs run fast.
And as it backward turns, believes
‘Tis but a childhood’s past.

And, questioning with steady gaze,
looks onwards to its prime.
And hopeful, naught but welcome gifts
sees in the hands of time.

God bless our city, Bangor, then!
God bless its work begun!
And may our hope be justified
when a hundred years have run!

Centennial Celebration of the Settlement of Maine, September 30, 1869.
Benjamin A Burr, Printer, 1870.

Stabat Mater 2002

Stabat Mater dolorosa                   The Mother stood grieving,
Iuxta crucem lacrimosa,                Weeping beside the cross,
Dum pendebat Filius                    While on it hangs her Son.

Cuius animam gementem            He whose sighing soul
Contristatam et dolentem             Saddened and suffering
Pertransivit gladius.                     Was pierced by the sword.

O quam tristis et afflicta                Oh, how sad and afflicted                                                                     
Fuit illa benedicta                        Was that blessed One,
Mater unigeniti!                            Mother of the Only-begotten!

Quae moerebat et dolebat,            She who grieved and suffered,
Pia Mater, dum videbat                The loving Mother, while she observed
Nati poenas incliti!                        Her Son’s well-known atonement.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,            What person would not weep,
Matrem Christi si videret                   Seeing the Mother of Christ
In tanto supplicio?                            In such agony?

Quis non posset contristari,            Who would not be saddened,
Christi Matrem contemplari            Contemplating the Mother of Christ
Dolentem cum Filio?                      Suffering with her Son?   

Pro peccatis suae gentis                For the sins of his people
Vidit Iesum in tormentis,               She saw Jesus in torment
Et flagellis subditum;                    And subjected to whips.

Vidit suum dulcem natum            She watched her sweet offspring
Moriendo desolatum                    Dying forsaken,
Dum emisit spiritum.                    While He gave up his spirit.

Eia Mater, fons amoris,                  Oh Mother, fount of love,
Me sentire vim doloris                   Make me sense the force of your grief
Fac, ut tecum lugeam.                    So that with you I can mourn.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum                Cause my heart to burn
In amando Christum deum,            In loving Christ the God,
Ut sibi complaceam.                      That I may please Him.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,            Holy Mother, may you do this
Crucifixi fige plagas                    Fix the stripes of the Crucified One
Cordi meo valide!                       In my heart securely.

Tui nati vulnerati                        Share with me the pain
Tam dignati pro me pati,            Of your wonderful Offspring,
Poenas mecum divide!               Who deigned to suffer so for me!

Fac me vere tecum flere,            Make me truly to weep with you,
Crucifixo condolere,                   To feel the pain with the Crucified One,
Donec ego vixero!                    As long as I live.

Iuxta crucem tecum stare,            To stand by the Cross with you,
Et me tibi sociare                        Willingly to associate with you,
In planctu desidero.                    In lament, this I desire.

Virgo virginum praeclara,            Virgin, most noble of virgins,
Mihi iam non sis amara:                Be not now bitter with me,
Fac me tecum plangere.                Make me to lament with you.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,            Cause me to bear the death of Christ.
Passionis fac consortem                        Make me to be a partner in passion,
Et plagas recolere!                                And to recollect the injuries.
Fac me plagis vulnerari,                    Make me to be wounded by his wounds,
Fac me cruce inebriari,                        Make me to be inebriated with his Cross,
Ob amorem filii!                                  And with love for your Son.           

Inflammatus et accensus                    Burning and in flames,
Per Te, Virgo, sim defensus                Virgin, may I be defended by you
In die iudicii!                                        On the Day of Judgment!

Fac me cruce custodiri                        Make me the guardian of the Cross,
Morte Christi praemuniri,                    Protector of the death of Christ,
Confoveri gratia!                                Cherisher of Grace.

Quando corpus morietur,                    When my body shall die,
Fac, ut animae donetur                        Grant that my soul be given
Paradisi Gloria!                                    The Glory of Paradise.

Amen!                                       Amen!

Complete texts for "Christmas Cantata" (2001)

"The New Oxford Book of Carols," edited by Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott
Oxford University Press, New York

I.  Hail, blessed Virgin Mary! (G. R. Woodward,1848-1934)

Hail, blessed Virgin Mary!
For so, when he did meet thee,
Spake mighty Gabriel,
And thus we greet thee.
Come weal, come woe,
Our hymn shall never vary:
Hail, blessed Virgin Mary!
Hail, blessed Virgin Mary!

Ave, ave Maria!
To gladden priest and people
The Angelus shall ring
from ev'ry steeple
To sound his virgin birth.
Ave, ave Maria!

Archangels chant 'Osanna!'
And 'Holy! holy! holy!'
Before the Infant born
Of thee, thou lowly
Aye-maiden child of Joachim and Anna.
Archangels chant 'Osanna!'

II.  Adeste, Fideles  (Anonymous)

Adeste, fideles,                                        O come all you faithful,
Laeti, triumphantes,                                  Joyful and triumphant,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem!                    Come, come to Bethlehem!
Natum videte Regem Angelorum!            See him born the king of angels!

Deum de Deo                                                   God from God
Lumen de Lumine,                                        Light from Light
Gestant puellae viscera                              The flesh and blood of the Virgin bear
Deum verum, genitum non factum.            The true God begotten not created.

En grege relicto,                                                Having left their flocks.
Humiles ad cunas                                                To the humble cradle
Vocati pastores appropriant;                            Let the summoned shepherds hasten;
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.                        And let us hasten there with rejoicing step.

Stella duce, Magi,                                                With the star leading, the Magi
Christum adorantes,                                            Adoring Christ give him gifts
Aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera;               Of gold, incense, and myrrh.
Jesu infanti corda praebeamus.                            Let us offer our hearts to the infant Jesus.

Pro nobis egenum                                                       Poor for us
Et foeno cubantem                                                    And lying in the manger,
Piis foveamus amplexibus;                                        May we cherish him with holy embraces;
Sic nos amantem quis non redamaret?                        Loving us so, who would not return love for love?

Cantet nunc 'Io'                                                              Sing now 'lo'
Chorus angelorum;                                                        The chorus of angels
Cantet nunc aula caelestium:                                        Let the halls of heaven sing;
'Gloria in excelsis Deo!'                                                'Glory to God in the highest!'

Ergo qui natus                                                                    Therefore to you Jesus
Die hodierna,                                                                    Born this day,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,                                                            Be glory,
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum.                                       The Word of the eternal Father made in flesh.

Trans.: T. Frank Kennedy, S.J.

III.  Dormi, Jesu!  (Traditional)

Dormi, Jesu!                                                        Sleep, Jesus!
mater ridet                                                            Mother smiles
quaetam dulcem somnum videt,                            As she considers that sweet sleep,
Dormi, Jesu, blandule!                                           Sleep, charming Jesus!
Si non dormis,                                                        If you do not sleep,
mater plorat                                                            Mother weeps
Inter fila cantans orat,                                             Singing on strings (of a lyre) she prays
Blande, veni, somnule!                                            Softly, come, sleep!

Trans.: T. Frank Kennedy, S.J.

IV.  Sing lullaby  (Sabine Baring-Gould,1834-1924)

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now reclining,
Sing lullaby!
Hush! do not wake the infant King!
Angels are watching, stars are shining,
Over the place where he's lying;

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now asleeping,
Sing lullaby!
Hush! do not wake the infant King!
Soon will come the sorrow with the morning,
Soon will come the bitter grief and weeping;
Sing lullaby!

Sing lullaby!
Lullaby baby, now a-dozing,
Sing lullaby!
Hush! do not wake the infant King!
Soon comes the Cross, the nails, the piercing,
Then in the grave at last reposing,
Sing lullaby!
Sing lullaby!
Lullaby, is the baby awaking?
Sing lullaby!
Hush! do not wake the infant King!
Dreaming of Easter, gladsome morning,
Conquering death, its bondage breaking;
Sing lullaby!

V.   Gaudete!    (Praetorius, 1582; Jistebnice Cantional 1420)

Gaudete! Gaudete! Christus est natus            Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born
Ex Maria Virgine: gaudete!                              Of the Virgin Mary, rejoice!

Tempus adest gratiae,                                    Now is the time of grace
Hoc quod optabamus;                                    That we have prayed for;
Carmina laetitiae                                            Let us devoutly offer
Devote reddamus.                                            Songs of joy.

Deus homo factus est,                                    God is made man
Natura mirante;                                                While nature wonders
Mundus renovatus est                                        The world is renewed
A Christo regnante.                                        By the ruling Christ

Ezechielis porta                                            The closed gate of Ezekiel
Clausa pertransitur;                                        Is passed through;
Unde Lux est orta,                                        Where the light is risen
Salus invenitur.                                                Salvation is found.

Ergo nostra concio                                           Therefore let our assembly sing
Psallat jam in lustro;                                        Praise now in sacrifice;
Benedicat Domino:                                        Let the assembly bless the Lord:
Salus Regi nostro.                                            Salvation is our Lord's.

Trans.: T. Frank Kennedy, S.J.

Symphony No. 4 ... War and Peace (2001)

1. Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915: "The soldier" from The War Sonnets

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England.  There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

2. Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918: "Dulce Et Decorum Est"

Bent down, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep.  Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime ...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie:  Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

3. Ivor Gurney, 1890-1937: "To his love"

He's gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswold
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.

His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn river
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.

You would not know him now ...
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers -
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

Mass for the Holy Year 2000

I.    KYRIE:

    Kyrie eleison.
    Christe eleison.
    Kyrie eleison.

II.   MEDITATION.  Poem by Elizabeth Kirschner (b. 1955)

    Out of myself, I was looking for God
    in silken streams the moon was told
    where I bent down in ancient night
    over my people, my death, my soul.

    I think I haunt the hills around.
    I think God loves the blackest sound,
    the cry, the wind, the world's low whine,
    God is alone where we abound.

    Though we play at war up 'til the end
    his love blazes into pain and back again
    when deeply down and down we go
    embalmed in his sweet amen.

    Now we are lost, we sing to thee
    joy may wander but never leave.
    Now we are dead, we rise and praise,
    permit us---just once!---your glory.


    Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
    Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te.
    Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
    Domine Deus, rex coelestis, pater omnipotens, domine fili unigenite,
    Jesu Christe, altissime domine Deus, agnus Dei, filius patris.
    Qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
    Qui sedes ad dexteram patris, miserere nobis.
    Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus dominus, tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe.
    Cum sancto spiritu in gloria Dei patris. A-men.

IV.    TRUTH. 
Poem by Claude McKay (1890-1948)

    Lord, shall I find it in Thy Holy Church,
    or must I give it up as something dead,
    Forever lost, no matter where I search,
    Like Dinosaurs within their ancient bed?
    I found it not in years of Unbelief,
    In Science stirring life like budding trees,
    In Revolution like a dazzling thief---
    Oh, should I find it on my bended knees?

    So, what is Truth? So Pilate asked Thee, Lord,
    So long ago when Thou wert manifest,
    As the Eternal and Incarnate Word,
    Chosen of God and by Him singly blest,
    In this vast world of lies and hate and greed,
    Upon my knees, Oh Lord, for Truth I plead.


    Credo in unum Deum.
    Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilum omnium, et invisibilium,
    Et in unum Dominum, Jesum Christum, filium Dei unigenitum, et ex patre natum ante omnia saecula,
    Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem patri,
    per quem omnia facta sunt, qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis.
    Et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine, et homo factus est.
    Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est.
    Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum scripturas, et ascendit in coelum, sedet ad dexteram patris,
    et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regni non erit finis. 
    Et in spiritum sanctum, dominum et vivificantem, qui ex patre filioque procedit,
    qui cum patre et filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur, qui locutus est per prophetas.
    Et unam sanctum catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam.
    Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum, et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
    et vitam venturi saeculi.   Amen.

Poem by Edith Stein (1891-1942)  

    Translated from German by Waltraut Stein.

    Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
    And illumines the darkness of my heart?
    You lead me like a mother's hand,
    And should you let go of me,
    I would not know how to take another step.
    You are the space
    That embraces my being and buries it in itself.
    Away from you it sinks into the abyss
    Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
    You, nearer to me than I to myself
    And more interior than my most interior
    And still impalpable and intangible
    And beyond any name:
    Holy Spirit --- eternal love!


    Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth!  Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria ejus.
    Osanna in excelsis.
    Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini.
    Osanna in excelsis.

VIII.    APRIL 4th 1968.
    Poem by Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

    On a rainy night
    On a rainy night in April
    When everybody ran
    Said the minister

    On a balcony
    Of a hotel in Tennessee
    "We came at once

    On a night
    On a rainy night in April
    When the shot was fired
    Said the minister

    "We came at once upstairs
    And found him lying
    After the tornado
    On the balcony
    We came at once upstairs"

    On a rainy night
    He was our hope
    And we found a tornado
    Said the minister.

    And a well dressed white man
    Said the minister.
    Dropped the telescopic storm

    And he ran
    (The well-dressed minister of death)
    He ran
    He ran away

    And on the balcony       
    Said the minister
    We found
    Everybody dying


    Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
    Dona nobis pacem.


1. [This] Face        Arthur Gorges (1557-1625)

This face        This tongue        His wit
so fair             so sweet             so sharp
first bent         then drew           then hit
mine eye        mine ear             my heart

Mine eye       Mine ear             My heart
to like            to learn                to love
his face          his tongue           his wit
doth lead       doth teach           doth move

This face        This tongue        His wit
with beams    with sound          with art
doth blind      doth charm         doth knit
mine eye        mine ear             my heart

Mine eye        Mine ear            My heart
with life           with hope          with skill
his face           his tongue          his wit
doth feed        doth feast            doth fill

O face              O tongue          O wit
with frowns      with checks      with smart
wrong not        vex not             wound not
mine eye          mine ear           my heart

This eye           This ear            This heart
shall joy           shall yield        shall swear
his face             his tongue        his wit
to serve             to trust              to fear

2. Love Thou Art High    Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Love - thou art high -
I cannot climb thee -
But, were it Two -
Who knows but we -
Taking turns - at the Chimborazo -
Ducal - at last - stand up by thee -

Love - thou art deep -
I cannot cross thee -
But, were there Two -
Instead of One -
Rower, and Yacht - some sovereign Summer -
Who knows - but we'd reach the Sun?

Love - thou art Veiled -
A few - behold thee -
Smile - and alter - and prattle - and die -
Bliss - were an Oddity - without thee -
Nicknamed by God -
Eternity -

3. A Birthday       Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleur-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

4. Pairs         Philip Booth (born, 1925)

Years now, good days               
more than half the year,               
they row late afternoons               
out through the harbor               
to the bell, a couple               
with gray hair, an old               
green rowboat.  Given sun,
their four oars, stroke
by stroke, glint wet,
so far away that even
in light air their
upwind voices barely
carry.  No words translate
to us on shore, more
than a mile from where
they pull and feather.
All we hear is how,
like seaducks, they
seem constantly to
murmur.  And even
after summer's gone,
as they row out or
home, now and again
we hear, we cannot help
but hear, their years
of tidal laughter.

Jack and the Blues (1997)        Poems by Jack Kerouac

I.   Mexico City Blues - 43rd Chorus
          at the final wall
          where in Africa
          the old men petered
          out on their own account
          using their own Immemorial
        Salvation Mind]

    Mexico City Bop
    I got the huck bop
    I got the floogle mock
    I got the thiri chiribim
          bitchy bitchy bitchy
          batch batch
      Chipperly bop
                 Noise like that
                 Like fallin off porches
                 Of Tenement Petersburg
                 Russia Chicago O Yay.

    Like, when you see,
          the trumpet kind, horn
          shiny in his hand, raise
          it in smoke among heads
          he bespeaks, elucidates,
          explains and drops out,
          end of chorus

              SLIPPITY BOP

II. Desolation Blues - 12th Chorus 

    Little weird flower,
         why did you grow?
    Who planted you
             on this god damned hill?
    Who asked you to grow?
      Why dont you go?
      What's wrong with yr. orange tips?
      I was under the impression
           that you were sposed to be
           some kind of perfect nature.
    Oh, you are?
            Just jiggle in the wind, I see.
         At yr feet I see a nosegay
                bou kay
         Of seven little purple apes
        who dint grow so high
    And a sister of yours
            further down the precipice---
        and your whole family
           to the left---
    I thot last week
             you were funeral bouquets
        for me
        that never askt
        to be born
        or die
    but now I guess
        I'm just talkin'
        thru my
           empty head

III.    Poem

    Old hornet me
    Would woo thee
    Fair, soft Sarah
    Of the flowers;
    But bee's not kind
    That seeks to find,
    Peers too deep
    Shares no sleep;
    And anyway,
    Who woos bees?

IV.  Orlanda Blues - 32nd Chorus
    Listening to a guy play
     tenor saxophone &
      keep the tune inside
       chords & structures,
        as sweetly as this,
         you'll experience
          the same
           fitly thrill
            you got from Mozart

    It is pure musical beauty,
     like a musicale
      among wigs

    People who dont understand
    jazz are tone-deaf

V.  "Desolation Angels," Chapter 16  

    Ah yair, and when
    I gets to Third and
        I'll ketch me
    the Midnight Ghost---
    We'll roll right down
          to San Jose
    As quickly as you can boast---
    ---Ah ha, Midnight,
       midnight ghost,
    Ole Zipper rollin
       down the line---
    Ah ha, Midnight,
       midnight ghost,
    We'll come a blazing
    To Watson-ville,
    And whang on through
          the line---
    Salinas Valley
           in the night,
    On down to Apaline---
    Whoo Whoo
       Whoo ee
    Midnight Ghost
    Clear t'Obispo Bump
    ---Take on a helper
    and make that mountain,
    and come on down the town,
    ---We'll rail on through

    to Surf and Tangair
    and on down by the sea---
    The moon she shines
        the midnight ocean
    goin down the line---
    Gavioty. Gavioty,
    O Gavi-oty,
    Singin and drinkin wine---
    Camarilla, Camarilla,
    Where Charlie Parker
          went mad
    We'll roll on to L.A.
    ---O Midnight
       midnight ghost,
    rollin down the line,
    Sainte Teresa
    Sainte Teresa, dont you worry,
    We'll make it on time,
    down that midnight

    [And that's how I figure I'll make San Francisco to L.A. in 12 hours, ridin the Midnight Ghost, under a     lashed truck, the Firstclass Zipper freight train, zooam, zom, right down, sleepingbag and wine---a     day-dream in the form of a song.]

Used by permission of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.  Copyright by John Sampas, Literary Representatve, 1995.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly (1991)      

Words and poetry by the children in the Terezín Concentration Camp outside Prague, 1942-44.

I.   The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads
        To bury itself deep somewhere inside our memories.

        We've suffered here more than enough,
        Here in this clot of grief and shame,
        Wanting a badge of blindness
        To be a proof for their own children.

        A fourth year of waiting, like standing above a swamp
        From which any moment might gush forth a spring.
        Meanwhile, the rivers flow another way,
        Another way,
        Not letting you die, not letting you live.

        And the cannons don't scream and the guns don't bark
        And you don't see blood here.
        Nothing, only silent hunger.
        Children steal the bread here and ask and ask and ask
        And all would wish to sleep, keep silent and
        just to go to sleep again ...

        The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads
        To bury itself deep somewhere inside our memories.

        Mif    1944


... We got used to standing in line at 7 o'clock in the morning, at 12 noon and again at seven o'clock in the evening.  We stood in a long queue with a plate in our hands, into which they ladled a little warmed-up water with a salty or a coffee flavor.  Or else they gave our a few potatoes.  We got used to sleeping without a bed, to saluting every uniform, not to walk on the sidewalks and then again to walk on the sidewalks.  We got used to undeserved slaps, blows and executions.  We got accustomed to seeing people die in their own shit, to seeing piled-up coffins full of corpses, to seeing the sick amidst dirt and filth and to seeing the helpless doctors.  We got used to it that from time to time, one thousand unhappy souls would come here and that, from time to time, another thousand unhappy souls would go away ...

From the prose of 15-year-old Petr Fischl (born September 9, 1929), who perished in Oswiecim in 1944.

III.   On a purple, sun-shot evening
            Under wide-flowering chestnut trees
            Upon the threshold full of dust
            Yesterday, today, the days are all like these.

            Trees flower forth in beauty,
            Lovely too their very wood all gnarled and old
            That I am half afraid to peer
            Into their crown of green and gold.

            The sun has made a veil of gold
            So lovely that my body aches.
            Above, the heavens shriek with blue
            Convinced I've smiled by some mistake.

            The world's abloom and seems to smile.
            I want to fly but where, how high?
            If in barbed wire, things can bloom
            Why couldn't I?  I will not die!

        1944 Anonymous    (Written by the children in Barrack L 318 and L 417, ages 10-16 years.)

IV.    Fifteen beds.  Fifteen charts with names.
            Fifteen people without a family tree.
            Fifteen bodies for whom torture is medicine and pills,
            Beds over which the crimson blood of ages spills.
            Fifteen bodies which want to live here.
            Thirty eyes, seeking quietness.
            Bald heads which gape, out of the prison.
            The holiness of the suffering, which is none of my business.

            The loveliness of air, which day by day
            Smells of strangeness and carbolic,
            The nurses which carry thermometers
            Mothers who grope after a smile.
            Food is such a luxury here.
            A long, long night, and a brief day.

            But anyway, I don't want to leave
            The lighted rooms and the burning cheeks,
            Nurses who leave behind them only a shadow
            To help the little sufferers.

            I'd like to stay here, a small patient,
            Waiting the doctor's daily round,
            Until, after a long, long time, I'd be well again.

            Then I'd like to live
            And go back home again.


V.      The last, the very last,
            So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
            Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
            against a white stone ...
            Such, such a yellow
            Is carried lightly 'way up high.
            It went away I'm sure because it wished to
            kiss the world good-bye.

            For seven weeks I've lived in here,
            Penned up inside this ghetto
            But I've found my people here.
            The dandelions call to me
            And the white chestnut candles in the court.
            Only I never saw another butterfly.

            That butterfly was the last one.

            4.6.1942    Pavel Friedmann


            Spem in alium nunquam habui          
            praeter in te, Deus Israel,             
            qui irasceris et propitius eris,             
            et omnia peccata hominum   
            in tribulatione dimittis.           
            Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae   
            respice humilitatem nostram.       

            My hope have I never put in any but in you,
            God of Israel,

            who will be angry,
            and yet be gracious,

            and who absolvest all the sins of mankind
in tribulation. 
            Lord God, creator of heaven and earth,

            be mindful of our lowliness.


Poems from Terezín used with permission of the State Jewish Museum, Prague.
"I Never Saw Another Butterfly" published by Schocken Books, New York.
Poems translated by Jeanne Nemcová.