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p. Harris 500 Complete Song Cycle 2

All verses are spoken by the woman ("sister") to the man ("brother") in this cycle.

The overall tone is lyrical and sensitive, drawing heavily on the natural world, especially birds, to supply imagery.


p. Harris 500 Complete Song Cycle 2

All verses are spoken by the woman ("sister") to the man ("brother") in this cycle.

The start of a song for entertaining the heart

1 - Encounter    

Your most beautiful sister
    the woman beloved of your heart -
    is making her way in the meadow.

Brother of mine and my lover
    my heart races after your love,
    and this now, all this is your doing.

So I call to you, “see all these things,
    I am coming to capture,
    with snare in my hand
    with my basket, with bedroll beside.

For the bird-flocks of paradise
now are alighting in Egypt.
One dripping with myrrh is the first
to be seized by my lure -
    he is fragrant with paradise,
    fingers all laden with resin.

Now my heart is yours, we unwrap it together:
I go with you privately
so that you hear my voice as I call out
for this, my own myrrh-dripping one.

Most splendid of times, you are going with me,
I am going to open the snare:
this is beauty - the journeying out to the netting
for this one, the one that I love.

2 - Attraction    

The voice of the restless goose cries out
wrapped up in this his lure -

        your love for me entangles me
        too innocent indeed to loosen this -

so I go to my own nets to gather them in.
How tell all this to mother -

        setting out to her each outcast day
        going heavy to her with catch -

that no snare split open on this day's round
while I was seized with love for you?

3 - Resolve    

The restless goose flies high, alights,
    is stranded in the net:
        the countless other birds still circle round.

I go too fast, I go to tend to this one
governed by your love alone
my heart accords with your soul's passion,
never straying too far from your beauty.

4 - Approach    

I step out, uncertain, in search of your love
            - stand firm, my heart, within me -
seeing sweet cakes
    was like seeing salt,
and the fruit wine sweet in my mouth
    had become like the leavings of fowl.

The scent of your fragrance, yours alone,
only this enlivens my heart.
I find you, my gift from the Hidden One
for all time, here and hereafter.

5 - Fulfilment    

O most beautiful time -
    my heart has caught sight of your splendour,
        with you now beside your own mistress.

Your arm now rests here upon my breast -
    you roll me up inside your loving -
so I say to my heart “Keep apace
    with a prayer
        “O permit me my prince in the night
else I am like one sinking into her tomb -
    are you not my well-spring of life?

For being so close to your face yields joy
    and for your vitality my heart inclines after you.

6 - Satisfaction    

The voice of the swallow twitters away -
this is his cry:
    “The land is dawning! Get up on your way!

But don't, small bird speak thus:
I found my brother in his bed,
my soul with sweetness overflowed.

We pledged this too: “Never will I go astray,
    but hand put into hand
    go journeying with you
    to every place of beauty.

He made out I was first of all his beauties,
yet not quite so dazzled, this my soul.

7 - Anxiety    

I turn my face to the doorway - O sweetness -
see! my brother will come for me.

My eyes are on the way,
my ears strain,
for the coming of him who might forget.

I make loving my brother my own concern, mine alone,
my face is all his,
but my unquiet heart despatches messengers,
    fluttering feet pace to and fro,
        to say to me he does me wrong already,
            to say he finds another pretty trifle.

These chatter all about him - yet what now
could brighten in his heart around some stranger?

8 - Resolution    

My heart still reminisces on this love -
how with half my head unbraided
I went running, chasing after you,
my crown of curls quite out of mind.

Now unravelled and redressed are all my braids,
completed for today and always.