Let them bury your big eyes In the secret earth securely, Your thin fingers, and your fair, Soft, indefinite-colored hair,— All of these in some way, surely, From the secret earth shall rise; Not for these I sit and stare, Broken and bereft completely; Your young flesh that sat so neatly On your little bones will sweetly Blossom in the air.
But your voice,—never the rushing Of a river underground, Not the rising of the wind In the trees before the rain, Not the woodcock’s watery call, Not the note the white-throat utters, Not the feet of children pushing Yellow leaves along the gutters In the blue and bitter fall, Shall content my musing mind For the beauty of that sound That in no new way at all Ever will be heard again.
Sweetly through the sappy stalk Of the vigorous weed, Holding all it held before, Cherished by the faithful sun, On and on eternally Shall your altered fluid run, Bud and bloom and go to seed; But your singing days are done; But the music of your talk Never shall the chemistry Of the secret earth restore. All your lovely words are spoken. Once the ivory box is broken, Beats the golden bird no more.
Several years ago on Good Friday, I posted “All in the April Evening,” words and music by Sir Hugh Roberton, based on a poem by Katharine Tynan.
Good Friday is past, but music has no limits, so here it is again.
Roberton modified the words slightly; his version is the one I use. A link to the poem is here.
Links to performances and biographies of the composers follow.
Years ago my voice teacher introduced me to the song. Now I can’t sing it, because I can’t even hear it without tears.
All in the April evening April airs were abroad The sheep with their little lambs Passed me by on the road The sheep with their little lambs Passed me by on the road All in the April evening I thought on the lamb of god
The lambs were weary and crying With a weak human cry I thought on the lamb of god Going meekly to die Up in the blue blue mountains Dewy pastures are sweet Rest for the little bodies Rest for the little feet
But for the lamb, the Lamb of god Up on the hilltop green Only a cross, a cross of shame Two stark crosses between
All in the April evening April airs were abroad I saw the sheep with the lambs And thought on the Lamb of God
“Roberton was born in Glasgow, where, in 1906, he founded the Glasgow Orpheus Choir. For five years before that it was the Toynbee Musical Association. A perfectionist, he expected the highest standards of performance from its members. Its voice was a choir voice, its individual voices not tolerated. He set new standards in choral technique and interpretation. For almost fifty years until it disbanded in 1951, on the retirement of its founder, the Glasgow Orpheus Choir had no equal in Britain and toured widely enjoying world acclaim. Their repertoire included many Scottish folk songs arranged for choral performance, and Paraphrases, as well as Italian madrigals, English motets and the music of the Russian Orthodox Church. The choir also performed the works of Bach, Handel, Felix Mendelssohn, Peter Cornelius, Brahms and others.
“For a while, Tynan was a close associate of William Butler Yeats (who may have proposed marriage and been rejected, around 1885), and later a correspondent of Francis Ledwidge. She is said to have written over 100 novels. Her Collected Poems appeared in 1930; she also wrote five autobiographical volumes.“
Superscripts have been deleted from the Wikipedia articles.