Three songs for medium high voice
i. The Sick Rose
[ 1 page, circa 1' 15" ]
O rose, thou art sick!
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret
Does thy life destroy.
ii. The Lilly [ 1 page, circa 50"
The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a
While the Lilly white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.
iii. Ah, Sunflower [ 2
pages, circa 1' 00" ]
Ah, sunflower, weary of time,
countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden
Where the traveler's journey is done;
Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower
wishes to go!
Total duration [ 4 pages, 3' 05" ]
William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet,
painter, and printmaker. Though largely unrecognized during his
life, today Blake's work, produced in partnership with his wife,
Catherine, is renowned. Northrop Frye's study of Blake's entire
poetic opus says that his prophetic poems form "what is in
proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the
[English] language". Others have praised Blake's visual artistry, in
particular his famed engravings.
Blake himself saw poetry and visual arts as being
companions in a unified spiritual endeavor, and they are often
inseparable in his work. Blake said, "The imagination is not a
State: it is the Human existence itself."
Blake was a strong
libertarian, with a deep hatred of the tyranny that was prevalent
during his lifetime. This is reflected in his poems 'Songs of
Innocence and of Experience', where he portrays upper class
institutions and the Church of England as corrupt and exploiters of
the weak in society. He dreamed of an idyllic England, free from
"The Sick Rose" has been interpreted in many ways,
among them as metaphor for sexual disease though a better reading is
to simply take the text at face value. That which is invisible is
not necessary unreal and still may sicken to destroy life.
The rose is again featured with another analogy in
this short poem which suggests of the "Lilly" that some beautiful
things in life are in some way peace-giving.
The last song is anthropomorphizes the sunflower,
seeking that "sun" -- as is the metaphor in Donne's Hymn to God the
Father -- which speaks of eternity with God.
Another text of William Blake drawn from his Songs
of Innocence (1794) is titled
The score is available as a free PDF download, though
any major commercial performance or recording of the work is
prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the
graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
Three Blake Settings