NewMusicShelf Anthology of New Music: Soprano, Vol. 1

Matheson, James: Clouds Ripped Open

Clouds ripped open; a rainbow
gleaming now in the sky,
the fields entirely folded inside
the glass bell of rain and sunlight.

I woke up. What is clouding
the magical windowpanes of my dream?
My heart beat
astonished and upset.

The flowering lemon tree,
the cypress in rows in the garden,
the green field, the sun, the water, the rainbow!
drops of water in your hair…!

And it all vanished back inside
like a soap bubble in the wind.

— Antonio Machado; tans. Robert Bly

Ranjabaran, Behzad: It Is Night

It is night- a damp night
and the soil has given up its color.
The wind,
the cloud’s infant,
from the mount has rushed to me.

It is night.
Like a swollen body,
the warm air has stood.

That is why a lost traveler
cannot see his way With its warm body,
the long desert – like a corpse in its grave,
tight-
is like my burnt heart,
or my tired body that is burning
from the fever’s phantom.

It is night-yes, night.

— Nima Yushij

Lindsay, Joshua Alan: Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.

I shall smile when wreathes of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

— Emily Bronte

Fein, Evan: Lullaby for a Baby Fairy

Night is over; through the clover globes of crystal shine;
Birds are calling; sunlight falling on the wet green vine.
Little wings must folded lie, little lips be still
While the sun is in the sky, over Fairy Hill.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
Baby with buttercup hair,
Golden rays
Into the violet creep.
Dream, dream deep;
Dream of the night-revels fair.
Daylight stays;
Sleep, little fairy child, sleep.

Rest in daytime; night is playtime, all good fairies know.
Under sighing grasses lying, off to slumber go.
Night will come with stars agleam, lilies in her hand,
Calling you from Hills of Dream back to Fairyland.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
Baby with buttercup hair;
Golden rays
Into the violet creep.
Dream, dream deep;
Dream of the night-revels fair.
Daylight stays;
Sleep, little fairy child, sleep.

— Joyce Kilmer

Ayres, Paul: The Best-Beloved

EV’N like two little bank-dividing brooks,
That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
And having rang’d and search’d a thousand nooks,
Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my best-beloved’s am; so he is mine.

Ev’n so we met; and after long pursuit,
Ev’n so we joyn’d; we both became entire;
No need for either to renew a suit,
For I was flax and he was flames of fire:
Our firm-united souls did more than twine;
So I my best-beloved’s am; so he is mine.

Nor Time, nor Place, nor Chance, nor Death can bow
My least desires unto the least remove;
He’s firmly mine by oath; I his by vow;
He’s mine by faith; and I am his by love;
He’s mine by water; I am his by wine,
Thus I my best-beloved’s am; thus he is mine.

— Francis Quarles

Hall, Juliana: Song

This shall be thy lullaby,
Rocking on the stormy sea;
Though it roar in thunder wild,
Sleep, stilly sleep, my dark-haired child.

When our shuddering boat was crossing
Eldern’s lake, so rudely tossing,
Then ’twas first my nursling smiled;
Sleep, softly sleep, my fair-browed child.

Waves above thy cradle break;
Foamy tears are on the cheek;
Yet the ocean’s self grows mild
When it bears my slumbering child.

— Emily Bronte

Primosch, James: Every day is a god

Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading at dawn fast over the mountains split.

I wake in a god. I wake in the arms holding my quilt, holding me as best they can inside my quilt.

Someone is kissing me — already. I wake, I cry “Oh.” I rise from the pillow. Why should I open my eyes?

I open my eyes. The god lifts from the water. His head fills the bay. He is the Puget Sound, the Pacific; his breast rises from pastures; his fingers are firs; islands slide wet down his shoulders. Islands slip blue from his shoulders and glide over the water, the empty, lighted water like a stage.

Today’s god rises, his long legs flecked in clouds. He flings his arms, spreading colors; he arches, cupping sky in his belly; he vaults, vaulting and spread, holding all and spread on me like skin.

— Annie Dillard

Livingston, Cecilia: Penelope

What is it
to be waiting?

What is it
to be waiting
for you?

Is it
wanting?

Is it
loving?

Is it
moving through me like a fire?

       Desire?

Is it
loneliness in empty rooms?

      Stillness…

Old-fashioned loves kiss
did they ever miss
each other?

      When will you come home to me?
      When will I bloom again?

Darling boy,
I breathe
the same salt air,
the same sun on my hair,

      When they see the boats
      from the headland
      they’ll strike up the band!

Darling boy
will you ever again
hold my hand
while we’re sleeping?

What is it
to be waiting?

What is it
to be waiting
for you?
Is it
loving?

Is it
loneliness in empty rooms?

— Cecilia Livingston

Buller, Mark: Mr. Peck

Here lies a Peck, which some men say
Was first of all a Peck of clay;
This wrought with skill divine, while fresh,
Became a curious Peck of flesh.

Through many forms its Maker ran,
Then adding breath made Peck a man;
Full fifty years Peck felt life’s troubles
Till death relieved a Peck of troubles;

Then fell poor Peck, as all things must.
And here he lies,
A Peck of dust.

— tombstone epitaph

Felsenfeld, Daniel: Dry Sandwiches

he cuts his sandwich
gives half to me.

Eat it.

between neat mustache and white face
handsome as a statue
his mouthmoving
his words slide around the table

I am a poet from Columbia University

I drink tea
in the small box of air
around my head

he rubs soft hands
I don’t want to discuss poetry
with a beautiful woman
I want to enjoy the woman

I taste the wretched
dry
sandwich

My poems sit in their folder
legs closed
like young girls
who do not know what they are doing

Please,
I say
I must go

but he hopes to see me again
so we can talk more

he expects me to call
so he can talk more
to a beautiful woman

I am not

I am squeezed
between the yellow covers
of the folder

I am silent

— Kate Gale

Wiprud, Theodore: Elegy Before Death

There will be rose and rhododendron
When you are dead and under ground;
Still will be heard from white syringas
Heavy with bees, a sunny sound;

Still will the tamaracks be raining
After the rain has ceased, and still
Will there be robins in the stubble,
Brown sheep upon the warm green hill.

Spring will not ail nor autumn falter;
Nothing will know that you are gone,
Saving alone some sullen plough-land
None but yourself sets foot upon;

Saving the may-weed and the pig-weed
Nothing will know that you are dead,—
These, and perhaps a useless wagon
Standing beside some tumbled shed.

Oh, there will pass with your great passing
Little of beauty not your own,—
Only the light from common water,
Only the grace from simple stone!

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Kerry, Gordon: Canto of the Leaves (Eympyrean)

Solvent light on leaves.
She barely sees surfaces,
barely breaks through epidermis

to mesophyll, following
prosody of vascular tissue;
she signs with leaf scale,

rust, mildew, epinasty,
and those fallen in late summer-
dry curvilinear graph paper,

each miniscule frame blown out,
hot easterlies blasting over
vast, naked sandplain,

rocking skyscraper haystacks
to sway breaking wave
and collapse, burst out

like countersignatures.
Leaves flutter down
from dying crowns,

snowflakes she recalls
from frozen regions: each death
perfect and different

as the next. No rain
will come. No fresh leaves
burgeon. No gyres

made entire. She
scatters he verses
to blaze, to melt,

crumble always,
the infinitive,
a future.

— John Kinsella

Eads, Emerson: He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

— William Butler Yeats

Goble, Jodi: The Storm

I thought of you when I was wakened
By a wind that made me glad and afraid
Of the rushing, pouring sound of the sea
That the great trees made.
One thought in my mind went over and over
While the darkness shook and the leaves were thinned—
I thought it was you who had come to find me,
You were the wind.

— Sara Teasdale

Arrigo-Nelson, John: Grapheme I after Cy Twombly

Roma
Amor
Morte
(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.)
Say goodbye to the shores

Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head
He has outsoared the shadow of our night

But their heart
But their heart turned

And yet there on
the other shore
under the dark gaze
sun in your eyes
you were there
the other side
the other dawn
the other birth
(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.)
yet there you were
in the vast
time
drop by drop
just like –

Thaw not the frost
(1. 2.)
He has outsoared

But their heart turned cold and they dropped their wings

— Cy Twombly, George Seferis, Catallus, Percy Shelley, Sappho

Bussey, Martin: Lovely Playthings

Dawn brings lovely playthings to the mind,
But sunset fights and goes down in battle blind.
The banners of dawn spread over in mystery,
But nightfall ends a boast and a pageantry.

After the halt of dawn comes the slow moving of
Time till the sun’s hidden rush and the day is admitted.
Sunset dies out in a smother of something like love,
With dew and the elm-hung stars and owl outcries half-witted.

— Ivor Gurney

Toutant, William: Le Pont Mirabeau

Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
La joie venait toujours après la peine
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Les mains dans les mains restons face à face
Tandis que sous
Le pont de nos bras passe
Des éternels regards l’onde si lasse

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

L’amour s’en va comme cette eau courante
L’amour s’en va
Comme la vie est lente
Et comme l’Espérance est violente

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Passent les jours et passent les semaines
Ni temps passé
Ni les amours reviennent
Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

— Guillaume Apollinaire


Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
After each sorrow joy came back again

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Hands joined and face to face let’s stay just so
While underneath
The bridge of our arms shall go
Weary of endless looks the river’s flow

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

All love goes by as water to the sea
All love goes by
How slow life seems to me
How violent the hope of love can be

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

The days the weeks pass by beyond our ken
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

tr. Richard Wilbur

Magin, Carrie: Be Music, Night

Be music, night,
That her sleep may go
Where angels have their pale tall choirs

Be a hand, sea,
That her dreams may watch
Thy guidesman touching the green flesh of the world

Be a voice, sky,
That her beauties may be counted
And the stars will tilt their quiet faces
Into the mirror of her loveliness

Be a road, earth,
That her walking may take thee
Where the towns of heaven lift their breathing spires

O be a world and a throne, God,
That her living may find its weather
And the souls of ancient bells in a child’s book
Shall lead her into Thy wondrous house

— Kenneth Patchen

Lustig, Raymond: the silvery round moon

LO, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

— Walt Whitman

Borzoni, Clint: Oh You Whom I Often and Silently Come

O YOU whom I often and silently come where you are that I may
be with you,
As I walk by your side or sit near, or remain in the same room
with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is play-
ing within me.

— Walt Whitman