Text by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Fair daffodils, we weep to see you haste away so soon;
As yet the early rising sun has not attained his noon.
Stay until the hasting day has run but to the evensong;
And, having prayed together, we will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you, we have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay, as you, or anything.
We die, as your hours do, and dry away like to the Summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew ne’er to be found again.
Songs of Nature
English version by Harold Heiberg
1. Melodies Steal into my Heart
Melodies steal into my heart; I never know how melodies do it.
You would not ask the grass to know whence come the diamonds that bedew it?
‘Round me the world grows still and clear as Nature greets the new day’s sunrise;
Now beauty fills my soul with joy, now tender, tender sadness moistens my eyes.
Dewdrops from moonlit sky appear; and from a heart that is filled with joy and sorrow
Thence come the songs we love to hear,
And thence comes all hope for a brighter new day,
And thence comes our hope for a brighter morrow.
2. Vesper Bells Ring
Vesper bells ring, evening is falling. The birds of day are hushed and silent.
Only one cuckoo still is calling, and deep in shadows nightingales sing.
Stirred by the westwind’s gentle caressing, the trembling leaves with dewdrops glimmer,
While through the trees moonlight is pouring to fill the woods with silver shimmer.
Nodding in slumber flowers are dreaming, song birds are dreaming in the treetops.
Only the timid doe still lingers to drink of the crystalline dewdrops.
Now she is gone, and her departure leaves silence reigning in the forest;
Ah, let the distant nightingale sing, for such beauty can trouble no rest.
Now even she has ceased her warbling. Veiling the woodland, darkness has spread.
Thus slowly all the realm of Nature in quiet and peace is enfolded,
Is quietly in peace enfolded.
3. Golden Sunlight
Golden sunlight shines upon the ripening grain,
Warm winds whisper in the cornfields, harvest time has come again.
Flax and barley, tossed by breezes, to and fro,
And the kernels of wheat and rye grow heavy in the sunshine’s ardent glow,
Yellow butterflies are dancing to the buzz of bumblebees,
Whistling quail and chirping cricket fill the air with melodies,
Golden sunshine, golden harvest, wondrous world of golden hue,
This our song of harvest sun and summer joyously we sing to you.
4. Slender Young Birch
Slender young birch, how straight you grow, green and silver, there on the hill,
Banishing thoughts of winter snow, promising rose and daffodil,
Birch tree, your feathery robe of green shyly bids the breezes to play;
Whispering, they tell of things they’ve seen while wandering through this April day.
What could that magic tone have been, sounding like shawm or violin?
‘Tis the enchanting carol of spring through all of Nature echoing!
Buds form and swell, leaflets unfold, till all spring’s glory we behold,
While branches stir and gently wave, joining in praise of their Maker.
Building their nests in every tree, birds sing again their roundelay,
And all of Nature soon will be greeting the lovely month of May.
5. This Day
This day was made for great rejoicing, this day is truly God’s creation!
The universe delight is voicing, all Nature joins the celebration.
To watch the midges gaily dancing insects are perched on leaf and blossom,
While through the forest busy brooks are rushing, filling with longing every bosom.
See how the heavens turn to crimson: sunsets flaming torches burning.
Hear how the lovely nightingales sing their rapturous songs of love and yearning!
The world resounds with wondrous music as each fulfills the joyous duty
Of giving thanks for countless blessings: peace and contentment, truth and beauty.
Radiant in moonlight, glittering with starlight, glowing with rapture and emotion,
Now earth and the heavens form a chalice: drink of the boundless joy that Nature holds!
Les Chansons des Roses
Rainer Maria Rilke, from Les Roses
English translations by Barbara and Erica Muhl
1. En une seule fleur
It is we, perhaps, who proposed
that you replenish your bloom.
Enchanted by this charade,
your abundance dared.
You were rich enough to fulfill
yourself a hundred times over
in a single flower;
such is the state of one who loves…
But you never did think otherwise.
2. Contre Qui, Rose
Against whom, rose, have you assumed these thorns?
Is it your too fragile joy that forced you to become this armed thing?
But from whom does it protect you, this exaggerated defense?
How many enemies have I lifted from you who did not fear it at all?
On the contrary, from summer to autumn you wound the affection that is given you.
4. La Rose Complete
I have such awareness of your being, perfect rose,
that my will unites you with my heart in celebration.
I breathe you in, rose, as if you were all of life,
and I feel the perfect friend of a perfect friend.
Abandon surrounding abandon, tenderness touching tenderness…
Your oneness endlessly caresses itself, so they say;
self-caressing through its own clear reflection,
Thus you invent the theme of Narcissus fulfilled.
Robert Frost ( 1874-1963)
1. The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
2. The Pasture
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may): I sha’n’t be gone long. –You come too.
I’m going out to fetch the little calf that’s standing by the mother. It’s so young
It totters when she licks it with her tongue. I sha’n’t be gone long. –You come too.
5. A Girl’s Garden
A neighbor of mine in the village likes to tell how one spring
When she was a girl on the farm, she did a childlike thing.
One day she asked her father to give her a garden plot
To plant and tend and reap herself, and he said, “Why not?”
In casting about for a corner he thought of an idle bit
Of walled-off ground where a shop had stood, and he said, “Just it.”
And he said, “That ought to make you an ideal one-girl farm,
And give you a chance to put some strength on your slim-jim arm.”
It was not enough of a garden her father said, to plow;
So she had to work it all by hand, but she don’t mind now.
She wheeled the dung in a wheelbarrow along a stretch of road;
But she always ran away and left her not-nice load,
And hid from anyone passing. And then she begged the seed.
She says she thinks she planted one of all things but weed.
A hill each of potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas,
Tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkins, corn, and even fruit trees.
And yes, she has long mistrusted that a cider-apple
In bearing there today is hers, or at least may be.
Her crop was a miscellany when all was said and done,
A little bit of everything, a great deal of none.
Now when she sees in the village how village things go,
Just when it seems to come in right, she says, “I know!
“It’s as when I was a farmer…” Oh never by way of advice!
And she never sins by telling the tale to the same person twice.
6. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
7. Choose Something Like a Star
O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud —
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says “I burn.”
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.
A Red, Red Rose
Robert Burns (1759–1796)
O, my luve’s like a red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June.
O, my luve’s like the melodie that’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, so deep in luve am I,
I will luve thee still, my dear, till a’ the seas gang dry,
I will luve thee, still, my dear, while the sands of life shall run,
Till the seas gang dry, my dear, and rocks melt with the sun!
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, so deep in luve am I,
I will come again, my love, though it were ten thousand mile!
I will come again.