NewMusicShelf Anthology of New Music for Tenor, Vol. 1: Texts & Translations

Craig Urquhart: Here the Frailest Leaves of Me

from Leaves

HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-
Here I shade down and hide my thoughts—I do not
expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other

— Walt Whitman

Rory Wainwright Johnston: Like the dove

from Nostalgia

Like the dove
that I held in the palm of my hands
on the path to the farm,
in the springtime you call me towards you.

Like the arc of the sun
that half-crowns the hilltop
and washes the valley in amber
you bend down to kiss me,

and here,
here in the echoing core of the city,
I miss you.

That trembling form, the warmth in my hands,
the fluttering wings, the soft little cries
of the dove
that I found my the side of the path on the way to the farm,
in springtime,

I’ll never forget,

and this vision of yo will never fade grey –
your mouth –
your eyes –
the sunset.

— Eli Carvajal

Paul Ayres: The Salutation

from The Light Walking

These little Limbs,
These Eys and Hands which here I find,
This panting Heart wherwith my Life begins;
Where have ye been? Behind
What Curtain were ye from me hid so long!
Where was, in what Abyss, my new-made Tongue?

When silent I
So many thousand thousand Years
Beneath the Dust did in a Chaos ly,
How could I Smiles, or Tears,
Or Lips, or Hands, or Eys, or Ears perceiv?
Welcom ye Treasures which I now receiv.

I that so long
Was Nothing from Eternity,
Did little think such Joys as Ear and Tongue
To celebrat or see:
Such Sounds to hear, such Hands to feel, such Feet,
Beneath the Skies, on such a Ground to meet.

New burnisht Joys!
Which finest Gold and Pearl excell!
Such sacred Treasures are the Limbs of Boys
In which a Soul doth dwell:
Their organized Joints and azure Veins
More Wealth include than all the World contains.

From Dust I rise
And out of Nothing now awake;
These brighter Regions which salute mine Eys
A Gift from God I take:
The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the lofty Skies,
The Sun and Stars are mine; if these I prize.

A Stranger here,
Strange things doth meet, strange Glory see,
Strange Treasures lodg’d in this fair World appear,
Strange all and New to me:
But that they mine should be who Nothing was,
That Strangest is of all; yet brought to pass.

— Thomas Traherne

Lisa Neher: Tuesdays and Thursdays

from Snapshots

The best part of my Tuesdays and Thursdays is getting to talk to you on the bus.

— Anonymous

Juliana Hall: June

from The Poet’s Calendar

Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine
The Month of Marriages! All pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower’s scythe makes music to my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Clint Borzoni: In the Golden Afternoon

from Within the Looking Glass

All in the golden afternoon, full leisurely we glide;
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
lingering onward dreamily,
in an evening of July.

In a wonderland they lie,
dreaming as the days go by,
ever drifting down the stream
lingering in a golden dream

life, what is it but a dream?

Thus grew the tale of wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one, its quaint events were hammered out
and now the tale is done,
beneath the setting sun.

— Lewis Carroll

Scott Wheeler: Night

from Heaven and Earth

The sun descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine.
The moon, like a flower,
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

Farewell, green fields and happy groves,
Where flocks have took delight.
Where lambs have nibbled, silent moves
The feet of angels bright;
Unseen they pour blessing,
And joy without ceasing,
On each bud and blossom,
And each sleeping bosom.

They look in every thoughtless nest,
Where birds are covered warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
To keep them all from harm.
If they see any weeping
That should have been sleeping,
They pour sleep on their head,
And sit down by their bed.

When wolves and tigers howl for prey,
They pitying stand and weep;
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
And keep them from the sheep.
But if they rush dreadful,
The angels, most heedful,
Receive each mild spirit,
New worlds to inherit.

— William Blake

Daniel Gilliam: Like men and women

from Songs of Insects and Animals

Sister Projects.sister projects: Wikidata item.
Like Men and Women Shadows walk
Upon the Hills Today —
With here and there a mighty Bow
Or trailing Courtesy
To Neighbors doubtless of their own
Not quickened to perceive
Minuter landscape as Ourselves
And Boroughs where we live —

— Emily Dickinson

Steven Burke: Inebriate of Air

I taste a liquor never brewed –
From Tankards scooped in Pearl –
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of air – am I –
And Debauchee of Dew –
Reeling – thro’ endless summer days –
From inns of molten Blue –

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door –
When Butterflies – renounce their “drams” –
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats –
And Saints – to windows run –
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the – Sun!

— Emily Dickinson

Garrett Hope: Princess Stories

from Somewhere, Love

Princess stories
never have pregnancies
in ever after.

If the slipper doesn’t fit,
you are beautiful
and beautiful.

— Joel E. Jacobson

Philip Wharton: Let Me Play the Fool

from Fools

Let me play the fool.
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.

Let me play the fool!

There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
And do a willful stillness entertain
With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
95As who should say, “I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!”

Let me play the fool!

Why should a man whose blood is warm within
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster,
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what!

Let me play the fool!

— William Shakespeare

David Leisner: Love and Friendship

from Confiding

Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree—
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?

The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?

Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He still may leave thy garland green.

— Emily Bronte

Frank J. Oteri: Prick'd

A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change as is false women’s fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she pricked thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.

— William Shakespeare

Gabrielle Rosse Owens: Black Is the Color of My true Love's Hair

from Three Folk Songs

Black is the color of my true love’s hair,
Her lips are something rosy fair.
The prettiest face and the daintiest hands,
I love the grass whereon she stands.

I love my love, and well she knows,
I love the grass whereon she goes.
If she on earth no more I see,
My life will quickly heed ye.

I’ll go to troublesome to mourn, to weep,
But satisfied, I ne’er shall sleep.
I’ll write her a note in a few little lines,
And suffer death ten thousand times.

Black is the color of my true love’s hair,
Her lips are something rosy fair.
The prettiest face and the daintiest hands,
I love the grass whereon she stands.

— Traditional

Drew Hemenger: Her Final Show

She said it was a better way to die than most;
she seemed relieved, almost at peace,
the stench of her infected Kaposi’s
made bearable by the Opium applied
so daintily behind her ears:
“I know it costs a lot,
but dear, I’m nearly gone.”
her shade of eye shadow was emerald green;
She clutched her favorite stones.

Her final show she’d worn them all,
sixteen necklaces of pearls,
ten strings of beads.
She said they gave her hope
Together heavy as a gallows rope,
the gifts of drag queens dead of AIDS

“Those girls,
They gave me so much strength,”
she whispered as I turned the morphine up.
She hid her leg beneath smooth sheets.
I straightened her red wig
before pronouncing her
to no applause.

— Rafael Campo

Roger Zahab: River

The nights are not so deep
and daylight lingers a little longer.
a new scent is in the air at twilight
and sounds that crack like rifle shots
come from the shore
must be the ice breaking along the river,
the water starts to flow again.

I feel I can breathe again
after such a long winter.
I feel alive again.
Come with, come with me now,
I feel I can live again.

— Roger Zahab

Darien Shulman: If Thou'lt Be Mine

from Three Poems of Thomas Moore

If thou’lt be mine, the treasures of air,
Of earth, and sea, shall lie at thy feet;
Whatever in Fancy’s eye looks fair,
Or in Hope’s sweet music sounds most sweet,
Shall be ours — if thou wilt be mine, love!

Bright flowers shall bloom wherever we rove,
A voice divine shall talk in each stream;
The stars shall look like world of love,
And this earth be all one beautiful dream
In our eyes — if thou wilt be mine, love!

And thoughts, whose source is hidden and high,
Like streams that come from heaven-ward hills,
Shall keep our hearts, like meads, that lie
To be bathed by those eternal rills,
Ever green, if thou wilt be mine, love!

All this and more the Spirit of Love
Can breathe o’er them who feel his spells;
That heaven, which forms his home above,
He can make on earth, wherever he dwells,
As thou’lt own, — if thou wilt be mine, love!

— Thomas MOore

David Wolfson: When First I Loved You

from Six Love Songs

When first I love you
It was a narrow love,
Bright and pointed.
My only cares were you and me
And the thin sweat between us.

I loved you longer
It was a broader love,
Rolling and rumbling,
A living continent
Between two oceans.

And at the last,
When I rejoin
The waiting universe,
That ever vaster love
Will outreach the fleeing galaxies,
Including all there is.

— David Wolfson

Chester Biscardi: At Any Given Moment

from Modern Love Songs

As the poet said:
How do I love you?
Let me count the ways.
But I’d like to rephrase
the question and start again.
Not how do I love you,
But when?


At any given moment
Of any given hour
Of any given day
You are somewhere in my mind.

At any given drop of sand in the hourglass,
At any given tick of the clock,
At any given shift in the sun’s position
I get that shock
Of recognition.
It’s you again!
Come to remind me
Of all our times together since we met
Not that I could ever forget.

At every given moment
Of every given hour
Of every given season
Of the year
You appear.

— William Zinsser

Dennis Tobenski: John Anderson, My Jo

from And He’ll Be Mine

John Anderson my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw,
but blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!

John Anderson my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither,
And monie a cantie day, John,
We’ve had wi’ ane anither;
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo!

— Robert Burns