The Speaking Silence

2005 soprano + guitar quartet 20'

on four poems by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

I. Mirage

THE hope I dreamed of was a dream,

Was but a dream; and now I wake

Exceeding comfortless, and worn, and old,

For a dream's sake.

I hang my harp upon a tree,

A weeping willow in a lake;

I hang my silenced harp there, wrung and snapt

For a dream's sake.

Lie still, lie still, my breaking heart;

My silent heart, lie still and break:

Life, and the world, and mine own self, are changed

For a dream's sake.

II. REMEMBER

REMEMBER me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann'd:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.

III. Song

She sat and sang I

By the green margin of a stream,

Watching the fishes leap and play

Beneath the glad sunbeam.

I sat and wept I

Beneath the moon's most shadowy beam,

Watching the blossoms of the May

Weep leaves into the stream.

I wept for memory;

She sang for hope that is so fair:

My tears were swallowed by the sea;

Her songs died on the air.

IV. Echo

COME to me in the silence of the night;

Come in the speaking silence of a dream;

Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright

As sunlight on a stream;

Come back in tears,

O memory, hope and love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter-sweet,

Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,

Where souls brim-full of love abide and meet;

Where thirsting longing eyes

Watch the slow door

That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live

My very life again though cold in death;

Come back to me in dreams, that I may give

Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:

Speak low, lean low,

As long ago, my love, how long ago.