Song Cycle

Song Cycle
By Joan Burstyn
Published by Woods Hole Press, 1976

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Excerpts

March Day


(Music composed by Jonathan Dinkin & sung by Robert Lieberman)

I have seen Spring before:
I have seen the sun on budding branches,
And grass yielding before the wind;
I have watched snowdrops bow down
Their heads, and crocuses
Smile, golden and purple;
I have trodden at other times
Over the springy tussocks
Which shield crisp leaves
Of a long forgotten summer;
Yet this is not the same.
This first fine day
Has set up such a tune
Of life and love, such joy
Of birds, and half-forgotten
Simple sounds, my body dances,
Quite unbid, into harmony
With things. I am bewitched.

Autumn in the Tea-garden

Simple sounds under the sun
Turn to tunes of melody beyond
Belief. Grief is scarcely known here
Beside the watercress beds, where
Tears are lost in the water
Below the roots. And in the days
Of the murmurous Fall, all
Is one restive flood of blue and purple
Filching the beauty of the burnished
Trees, until the world
Is a kaleidoscope of color.

The Firstborn

This child empties the heart
Of care, grasping the toys
Held out to her.
She is us before we were ourselves
Or carried our attitudes and habits
In the frayed case of our minds.
She is the hopes we spilled
So lavishly upon the floor of time.
She is our flesh and yet not ours.

The Dry Month Passed

The dry month passed and the brain
Grew big and gave birth again.
Not from the distant hills
Swept by the rain, not from there –
Not from where the sun kindles the trees
To sacrifice their moisture
And the voices rise
With the cloud in prayer, not from there –
Nor from the music came the conception.

No voices troubled the notes
But the stillness of souls
In a kiss, and the music
Binding the kiss in eternity.
And the music repeated in time
Without the kiss.
                            And the music alone.

And from the loneliness came the conception.