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Composed by Abraham Levitan to his adaptation of George Dillion's 1936 translation of "La Voix" by Charles Baudelaire.
I grew up next to a bookcase — a tall
Babel with histories, row upon row
The ashes of Greek and Latin — all
Mingled. When I was high as a folio
I heard two voices speaking. The first said “Be wise;
The world is a big delicious cake, my friend!
You need an appetite of similar size
And if you heed my counsel, your joys will have no end.”
The other voice said, “Come travel with me in dreams,
Far beyond the range of the possible and known
And in it I heard the music of winds and streams
Blown from nowhere and into nowhere blown —
A phantom cry — a sound to captivate.
And I said, “I will, lovely voice!” And from
That hour was sealed my disastrous fate
Now I always see behind the worldly tedium!
The tedium of…
Finite semblances, while beyond this zone
I see distinctly another world
And yet I wear with loathing these mortal toils, as one
Dragging serpents round his ankles curled.
And from that day, like a prophet of Palestine
I love the wilderness — I love the sea
I find my joy in harsh, sour wine
I smile in sad moments and weep amid gaiety!
I take fact for illusion, and with my own eyes
Fixed on the heavens, I fall into holes
But the Voice says, “Guard your dreams, fool! The wise
Have none so beautiful as you.” And the voice consoles!
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