To the Soul
Song Texts & Select Translations

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To the Soul Song Texts and Select German Translations

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To the Soul (Various Composers)

Poetry by Walt Whitman
German Translations available for many of the poems

Song Listing:

1. One’s Self I Sing (spoken)
2. As Adam Early in the Morning, Music: Ned Rorem
3. The Last Invocation, Music: Frank Bridge
4. To the Soul, Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
5. A Clear Midnight, Music: Ralph Vaughn Williams
6. Joy, Shipmate, Joy!, Music: Ralph Vaughn Williams
7. The Mystic Trumpeter (spoken)
8. Prayer of Columbus, Music: Robert Strassburg
9. One Thought Ever at the Fore, Music: Ernst Bacon
10. As I Watch’d the Ploughman Ploughing, Music: Philip Dalmas
11. Sing on There in the Swamp, Music: Paul Hindemith
12. Look Down, Fair Moon, Music: Charles Naginski
13. Memories of Lincoln, Music: William H. Neidlinger
14. Look Down, Fair Moon, Music: Ned Rorem
15. Ethiopia Saluting the Colors, Music: Henry Thacker Burleigh
16. Dirge for Two Veterans, Music: Kurt Weill
17. I Hear it Was Charged Against Me (spoken)
18. Walt Whitman, Music: Charles Ives
19. Behold This Swarthy Face, Music: Gerald Busby
20. We Two, Music: Elinor Remick Warren
21. Among the Multitude, Music: Craig Urquhart
22. Sometimes with One I Love, Music: Ned Rorem
23. We Two Boys Together Clinging, Music: Michael Tilson Thomas
24. That Shadow, My Likeness, Music: Ned Rorem
25. To What You Said, Music: Leonard Bernstein
26. Song of Myself (spoken)

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To the Soul Song Texts and Select German Translations

To-the-Soul-Texts-and-Translations (pdf / 111.42 KB)

1.One’s Self I Sing

1.One’s Self I Sing
Text: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

One’s-Self I sing, a simple separate person,
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,
The Female equally with the Male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.

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2. As Adam Early in the Morning

2. As Adam Early in the Morning
Music: Ned Rorem
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by A. Honecker and S. Viebahn

As Adam, early in the morning,
Walking forth from the bower, refresh’d with sleep;
Behold me where I pass – hear my voice pass –
Touch me pass – touch the palm of your hand to my Body
as I pass;
Be not afraid of my Body.
Wenn Adam früh am Morgen
Fortgeht von seiner Laube, vom Schlaf erfrischt,
So sieh mich, wie ich vorbeigeh, hör meine Stimme,
komm heran,
Berühr mich, berühr mit der Fläche der Hand meinen Leib,
wenn ich vorbeigeh,
Fürchte nicht meinen Körper.

3. The Last Invocation

3. The Last Invocation
Music: Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Werner Richter

At the last, tenderly,
From the walls of the powerful fortress’d house,
From the clasp of the knitted locks,
from the keep of well-closed doors,
Let me be wafted.Let me glide noiselessly forth;
With the key of softness unlock the locks –
with a whisper,
Set open the doors O soul.
Tenderly – be not impatient,
(Strong is your hold O mortal flesh,
Strong is your hold O love.)
Zu guter Letzt laß mich ganz sacht
Aus den Wänden des mächtig zitadell’ten Hauses,
Aus dem Griff verstrickter Schlösser, aus dem Schutz
Der wohlgeschloss’nen Türen
Hinweggeweht werden.Laß mich lautlos dahingleiten;
Mit dem Schlüssel der Sanftheit öffne mir die Tore –
mit einem Flüstern
Tu auf alle Türen, o Seele.
Sachte – sei nicht ungeduldig dabei
(Stark ist dein Halt, o sterbliches Fleisch,
Stark ist dein Halt, o Liebe.)

4. To the Soul (Darest Thou Now O Soul)

4. To the Soul (Darest Thou Now O Soul)
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
Text: Walt Whitman

Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?

No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is ablank before us,
All awaits undream’d of in that region, that inaccessible land.

Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepare for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfill O soul.

To the Soul Song Listing

5. A Clear Midnight

5. A Clear Midnight
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Hans Reisiger

This is thy hour, O Soul,
thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art,
the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing,
pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death, and the stars.
Dies ist deine Stunde, o Seele,
dein freier Flug in das Wortlose,
Fort von Büchern, fort von der Kunst,
der Tag ausgelöscht, die Arbeit getan,
Du, ganz emportauchend, lautlos, schauend,
den Dingen nachsinnend, die du am meisten liebst:
Nacht, Schlaf, Tod und die Sterne.

6. Joy, Shipmate, Joy!

6. Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Werner Richter
Watch and listen to a recording of this song here.

Joy, shipmate, joy!
(Pleas’d to my sould at death I cry),
Our life is closed, our life begins,
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore,
Joy, shipmate, joy!
Freu dich, Schiffskamerad, freu dich!
(So ruf im Tod ich froh meiner Seele zu.)
Unser Leben endet, unser Leben beginnt,
Vom langen, langen Ankerpplatz wir lösen uns nun,
Frei ist das Schiff und springt voller Lust auf den Wellen!
Rasch zieht es von der Küste davon,
So freu dich, Schiffskamerad, freu dich.

7. Excerpt from “The Mystic Trumpeter”

7. Excerpt from “The Mystic Trumpeter”
Text: Walt Whitman

Now, trumpeter, for thy close,
Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet;
Sing to my soul—renew its languishing faith and hope;
Rouse up my slow belief—give me some vision of the future;
Give me, for once, its prophecy and joy.

O glad, exulting, culminating song!
A vigor more than earth’s is in thy notes!
Marches of victory—man disenthrall’d—the conqueror at last!
Hymns to the universal God, from universal Man—all joy!
A reborn race appears—a perfect World, all joy!
Women and Men, in wisdom, innocence and health—all joy!
Riotous, laughing bacchanals, fill’d with joy!

War, sorrow, suffering gone—The rank earth purged—nothing but joy left!
The ocean fill’d with joy—the atmosphere all joy!
Joy! Joy! in freedom, worship, love! Joy in the ecstacy of life!
Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe!
Joy! Joy! all over Joy!

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8. Prayer of Columbus

8. Prayer of Columbus
Music: Robert Strassburg (1915-2003)
Text: Walt Whitman
(the yellow print highlights the sung text)

A batter’d [and] wreck’d old man,
Thrown on this savage shore, far far from home,
Pent by the sea and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months,
Sore, stiff with many toils, sicken’d and nigh to death,
I take my way
along the island’s edge,
Venting a heavy heart.

I am too full of woe!
Haply I may not live another day;
I cannot rest O God, I cannot eat or drink or sleep,
Till I put forth myself, my prayer once more to Thee, [to Thee]
Breathe, [I] bathe myself once more in Thee, commune with Thee,
Report myself [report myself] once more to Thee.

Thou knowest my years, my entire life,
My long and crowded life of active work, not adoration merely;
Thou knowest the prayers and vigils of my youth,
Thou knowest my manhood’s solemn and visionary meditations,
Thou knowest I have in age ratified all those vows and strictly kept them,
Thou knowest I have not once lost faith nor ecstasy in Thee,
In shackles, prison’d, in disgrace, repining not,
Accepting all from Thee, as duly come from Thee.

All my empires have been fill’d with Thee,
My speculations, plans begun, and carried on in thoughts of Thee,
Sailing the deep or journeying the land for Thee;
Intentions, purports, aspirations mone, leaving results to Thee.

O, I am sure they really come from Thee,
The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will,
The potent, felt, interior command, stronger than words,
A message from the Heavens whispering to me even in sleep,
These sped me on.
By me and these the work so far accomplish’d,
By me earth’s elder cloy’d and stifled lands uncloy’d, unloos’d,
By me hemispheres rounded and tied, the unknown to the known.

The end I know not, it is all in Thee,
Or small or great I know not – haply what broad fields, what lands,
Haply the brutish measureless human undergrowth I know.
Transplanted there may rise to stature, knowledge worthy Thee,
Haply the swords I know may there indeed be turn’d to reaping-tools,
Haply the lifeless cross I know, Europe’s dead cross, may bud and blossom there.

One effort more, my altar this bleak sand;
That Thou O God my life has lighted,
With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee,
Light rare untellable lighting the very light,
Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages;
For that O God, be it my latest word here on my knees,
Old, poor, and paralyzed, I thank Thee.

My terminus near,
The clouds already closing in upon me,
The voyage balk’d the course disputed, lost,
I yield my ships to Thee.
My hands, my limbs grown nerveless,
My brain feels rack’d, bewilder’d.
Let the old timbers part, I will not part,
I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me,
Thee, Thee [O God] at least I know.

Is it the prophet’s thought I speak, or am I raving?
What do I know of life? what of myself?
I know not even my own work past or present,
Dim ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me,
Of newer, better worlds, their mighty parturition,
Mocking, perplexing me.

And all these things I see suddenly, what mean they?
As if some miracle, some hand divine, unseal’d my eyes,
Shadowy vast shapes smile through the air and sky,
And on the distant waves sail countless ships,
And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.

To the Soul Song Listing

9. One Thought Ever at the Fore

9. One Thought Ever at the Fore
Music: Ernst Bacon (1898-1990)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Werner Richter

One thought ever at the fore -
That in the Divine Ship, the World,
breasting Time and Space,
All peoples of the globe together sail,
sail the same voyage,
Are bound to the same destination.
Ein Gedanke rankt sich immer um den vordersten Mast –
Daß auf dem himmlischen Schiff dieser Welt,
das trotzt Zeit und Raum,
Alle Völker des Planeten zusammen segeln,
sie segeln auf gleicher Fahrt,
Und haben gemeinsam dasselbe Ziel.

10. As I Watch’d the Ploughman Ploughing

10. As I Watch’d the Ploughman Ploughing
Music: Philip Dalmas (?-1928)
Text: Walt Whitman

As I watch’d the ploughman ploughing,
Or the sower sowing in the fields, or the harvester harvesting,
I saw there too, O life and death, your analogies;
(Life, life is the tillage, and Death is the harvest according.)

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11. Sing On There in the Swamp (1943)

11. Sing On There in the Swamp (1943)
Music: Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Johannes Schaf

Sing on there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender!
I hear your notes – I hear your call;
I hear – I come presently – I understand you;
But a moment I linger –
for the lustrous star has detain’d me;
The star, my departing comrade,
holds and detains me.
O, nun heb du an, dort in deinem Moor,
Lieber scheuer Sänger!
Ich höre dein Lied, ich vernehme deinen Ruf!
Ich höre; ich bin da; ich verstehe dich.
Einen Augenblick nur säumte ich,
Weil der glänzende Stern mich zurückhielt;
Der Stern, mein scheidender Gefährte,
Macht mich säumen.

12. Look Down, Fair Moon

12. Look Down, Fair Moon
Music: Charles Naginski (1909-1940)
Text: Walt Whitman
German translation by A. Honecker and S. Viebahn

Look down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods,
on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs,
with their arms toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.
Schau herab, heller Mond, und bade diese Szene,
Gieß zährtlich den flutenden Schein der Nacht
auf Gesichter, grausig purpurn und geschwollen,
Auf tote, denen, rücklings getragen,
die Arme baumeln, weitgespreizt,
Gieß deinen grenzenlosen Schein herab, heiliger Mond.

13. Memories of Lincoln

13. Memories of Lincoln
Music: William H. Neidlinger
Text: Walt Whitman
(the yellow print highlights the sung text)

Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows – through the doors – burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,

Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet – no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums – so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities – over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for the sleepers at night in the houses?
No sleepers must sleep in those beds,

No bargainers’ bargains by day – no brokers or speculators – would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums – you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley – stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid – mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums – so loud you bugles blow.

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
O mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night – O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d – O black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless – O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up – for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths – for you the shores a crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning,
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arms, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

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14. Look Down, Fair Moon

14. Look Down, Fair Moon
Music: Ned Rorem
Text: Walt Whitman
German translation by A. Honecker and S. Viebahn

Look down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods,
on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs,
with their arms toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.
Schau herab, heller Mond, und bade diese Szene,
Gieß zährtlich den flutenden Schein der Nacht
auf Gesichter, grausig purpurn und geschwollen,
Auf tote, denen, rücklings getragen,
die Arme baumeln, weitgespreizt,
Gieß deinen grenzenlosen Schein herab, heiliger Mond.

15. Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

15. Ethiopia Saluting the Colors
Music: Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by A. Honecker and S. Viebahn

Who are you, dusky woman,
so ancient, hardly human,
With your woolly white and turban’d head,
and bare bony feet?
Why, rising by the roadside here,
do you the colors greet?
(Tis while our army lines
Carolina’s sands and pines,
Forth from thy hovel door,
thou Ethiopia, com’st to me,
As, under doughty Sherman,
I march toward the sea.)
Me, master, years a hundred,
since from my parents sunder’d,
A little child, they caught me
as the savage beast is caught,
Then hither me, across the sea,
the cruel slaver brought.
No further does she say,
but lingering all the day,
Her high borne turban’d head she wags,
and rolls her darkling eye,
And courtseys to the regiments,
the guidons moving by.
What is it, fateful woman?
so blear, hardly human?
Why wag your head with turban bound?
yellow, red and green?
Are the things so strange and marvelous,
you see or have seen?
Wer bist du dunkles Weib, so alt,
fast nicht mehr menschlich,
Mit deinem Turban, weißem Haupt,
und nackten hagren Füßen?
Was stellst du an die Straße dich,
die Fahnen zu begrüßen?
(Es zieht sich unserer Linien
durch Carolinas Strand und Pinien
Aus deiner Hüttentür heraus,
kommst du, Äthiopien, zu mir,
Der mit dem tapfren Sherman
ich bis hin zum Meer marschier’.)
Vor über hundert Jahren
die Eltern ich verlor,
Als kleines Kind fing man mich ein
so wie ein wildes Tier,
Dann brachte mich das Sklavenschiff
über das Meer nach hier.
Die Frau, sie sagt nichts weiter,
verweilt den ganzen Tag,
Sie wiegt ihr edles hohes Haupt
und rollt die dunklen Augen,
Sie nickt den Regimentern zu,
den Fahnen und den Pauken.
Warum, du schicksalhafte Frau,
so trüb, fast übermenschlich,
Wiegst du den Turban,
rot, gelb, grün, auf deinem weißen haar?
Das, was du siehst und was du sahst,
war’s seltsam sonderbar?

16. Dirge for Two Veterans

16. Dirge for Two Veterans
Music: Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Werner Richter

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.
I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they are flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.)

And nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful cast phantom moves illumin’d,
(‘Tis some mother’s large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain!
O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.
Der letzte Sonnenstrahl
Des ausklingenden Ruhetages
Fällt sanft auf das Pflaster hier; und dort drüben schaut er
Hinab in ein frisches Doppelgrab.

Seht, der Mond geht auf,
Hinauf von Osten, der silbernrunde Mond,
Schön über den Hausdächern, geisterhaft, Trugbild Mond,
Unermeßlicher und stiller Mond.
Ich she’ eine Trauerprozession
Und hör’ den Klang volltöniger Hörner,
Alle Kanäle – die Straßen der Stadt – quellen über
Von stimmern wie von Tränen.

Ich hör’ die großen Trommeln schlagen,
Die kleinen Trommeln kraftvoll wirbeln,
Und jeder Schlag der großen, erschütternden Trommeln,
Trifft mich durch und durch.

Denn der Sohn wird gebracht mit dem Vater,
In den ersten Reihen des wilden Angriffs fielen sie,
Zwei Veteranen, Sohn und Vater, fielen zusammen,
Und das Doppelgrab erwartet sie.

Näher nun klingen die Hörner,
Und die Trommeln schlagen noch durchdringender,
Und über dem Pflaster schwindet nun das Tageslicht,
Und der stolze Todesmarsch umfängt mich.

Am östlichen Himmel wandert
Sich aufhellend das sorgenvolle weite trugbild.
‘S ist einer Mutter breites, durchscheinendes Gesicht,
Im Himmel heller werdend.

O stolzer Todesmarsch, du erfreust mich!
O gewaltiger Mond, dein silbernes Antlitz tröstet mich!
O mein Soldatenpaar,
O meine Veteranen, geleitet zum Begräbnis,
Was mein ist, will ich Euch schenken.

Der Mond schenkt Euch Licht,
Und die Hörner und Trommeln schenken Euch Musik,
Und mein Herz, O meine Soldaten, meine Veteranen,
Mein Herz schenkt euch Liebe.

17. I Hear It Was Charged Against Me

17. I Hear It Was Charged Against Me
Text: Walt Whitman

I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions;
But really I am neither for nor against institutions;
(What indeed have I in common with them?—Or what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta, and in every city of These States, inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel, little or large, that dents the water,
Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of comrades.

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18. Walt Whitman

18. Walt Whitman
Music: Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Text: Walt Whitman

Who goes there? Hankering, gross, mystical and nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?
What is man, anyhow? What am I? What are you?
All I mark as my own you shall offset with your own;
Else it were time lost a-listening to me.

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19. Behold This Swarthy Face

19. Behold This Swarthy Face
Music: Gerald Busby (1874-1954)
Text: Walt Whitman

Behold this swarthy face, these gray eyes,
This beard, the white wool unclipt upon my neck,
My brown hands and the silent manner without charm;
Yet comes one a Manhattanese and ever at parting kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love,
And I on the crossing of the street or on the ship’s deck give a kiss in return,
We observe that salute of American comrades land and sea,
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.

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20. We Two

20. We Two

Music: Elinor Remick Warren (1900-1991)
Text: Walt Whitman

Shine! Shine! Shine!
Pour down your warmth, great sun!
While we bask, we two together.
Winds blow South or winds blow North,
Day come white, or night come black,
Home or rivers and mountains from home,
Singing all the time,
Minding no time,
While we two keep together.

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21. Among the Multitude

21. Among the Multitude
Music: Craig Urquhart (b. 1953)
Text: Walt Whitman

Among the men and women the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else, not parent, wife, husband, brother, child, any nearer than I am
Some are baffled, but that one is not – that one knows me.
A lover and perfect equal,
I meant that you should discover me by so faint indirections
And when I meet you mean to discover you by the like in you.

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22. Sometimes with One I Love

22. Sometimes with One I Love
Music: Ned Rorem
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Anna Steeb and Bernd Müller

Sometimes with one I love,
I fill myself with rage,
for fear I effuse unreturn’d love
But now I think
there is no unreturn’d love –
the pay is certain, one way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently,
my love was not return’d;
Yet out of that I have written these songs.)
Manchmal mit jemandem, den ich liebe,
Füll ich mich mit Wut, aus Angst,
unerwiderter Liebe auszuströmen;
Aber inzwischen denk ich,
es gibt keine unerwiderte Liebe –
der Lohn ist gewiß, so oder so;
(Ich liebte eine gewisse Person innig,
meine Liebe ward nicht erwidert;
Und doch hab ich deswegen diese Lieder geschrieben.)

23. We Two Boys Together Clinging

23. We Two Boys Together Clinging
Music: Michael Tilson Thomas (b. 1944)
Text: Walt Whitman

We two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going, North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning, sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking
On the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statues mocking, feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.

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24. That Shadow, My Likeness

24. That Shadow, My Likeness
Music: Ned Rorem
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Anna Steeb and Bernd Müller

That shadow, my likeness, that goes to and fro,
seeking a livelihood, chattering, chaffering,
How often I find myself standing and looking at it
where it flits,
How often I question and doubt
whether that is really me;
But among my lovers, and caroling my songs,
O I never doubt whether that is really me.
Dieser Schatten, mein Ebenbild, das auf und ab geht, schnatternd und feilschend einen Lebensunterhalt sucht,
Wie oft ertapp ich mich, daß ich dastehe und schaue, wohin er flitzt,
Wie oft stell ich ihn in Frage, bezweifle ich,
daß ich das wirklich bin;
Aber inmitten meiner Geliebten und meiner Lieder singend
Zweifle ich niemals, daß ich es wirklich bin.

25. To What You Said

25. To What You Said
Music: Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Text: Walt Whitman
German Translation by Werner Richter

To what you said,
passionately clasping my hand,
this is my answer:
Though you have strayed hither,
for my sake, you can never belong to me,
Nor I to you,
Behold the customary loves and friendships
the cold guards
l am that rough and simple person
l am he who kisses his comrade
lightly on the lips at parting,
And l am one who is kissed in return,
I introduce that new American salute
Behold love choked, correct, polite,
always suspicious
Behold the received models of the parlors –
What are they to me?
What to these young men that travel with me?
Auf was du sagtest,
als so stürmisch meine Hand du nahmst,
ist dies die Antwort:
Auch wenn ich mich freu, daß du zu mir kamst,
verstohlen, kannst du mir nie gehören,
noch ich dir,
Sieh die gewohnten Freundschaften und Lieben, –
die kalten Wächter,
Ich bin ein einfacher und rauher Mensch,
Bin der, der seinen Kameraden
leicht auf den Mund küßt
Zum Abschied, einer, der erwidernd auch geküßt wird,
Und führe diesen neuen Gruß in den Staaten ein.
Seht her, die gezwungene, mustergültige, artige Liebe,
die immer mißtrauisch ist.
Seht, was man gutheißt in der guten Stube –
Doch was bedeutet’s mit?
Was diesen jungen Männern, die mit mir reisen?

26. Excerpt from “Song of Myself”

26. Excerpt from “Song of Myself”
Text: Walt Whitman

The past and present wilt-I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! What have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a
minute longer.)
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through
with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already
too late?
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, complains
of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the
shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh and eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

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Part of

Walt Whitman:
To the Soul

Song Texts & Translations