Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Some Memorial Day music, by Roger Sessions (1971), to Whitman's poem:

And I saw askant the armies, 
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags, 
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them, 
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody, 
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,) 
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken. 

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, 
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them, 
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war, 
But I saw they were not as was thought, 
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not, 
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d, 
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d, 
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d. 

Passing the visions, passing the night, 
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands, 
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul, 
Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song, 
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, 
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy, 
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven, 
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses, 
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves, 
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.... 

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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