When All Is Done -
Paul Laurence Dunbar
medium voice and piano
all is done, and my last word is said,
And ye who loved me murmur, “He is dead,”
Let no one weep, for fear that I should know,
And sorrow too that ye should sorrow so.
When all is done and in the oozing clay,
Ye lay this cast-off hull of mine away,
Pray not for me, for, after long despair,
The quiet of the grave will be a prayer.
For I have suffered loss and grievous pain,
The hurts of hatred and the world’s disdain,
And wounds so deep that love, well-tried and pure,
Had not the pow’r to ease them or to cure.
When all is done, say not my day is o’er,
And that thro’ night I seek a dimmer shore:
Say rather that my morn has just begun,--
I greet the dawn and not a setting sun,
When all is done.
pages, circa 4' 00" ]
text is found in Dunbar's collection, Lyrics of the Hearthside, 1899.
Musing about what a eulogist might say at the funeral celebration of a life
is a universal stirring among men, whether in humor or sarcasm, seriousness
and with religiosity, or in some other of man's many modes of thought and
fear. Dunbar offers a hymn of hope in his metaphor, "greet the dawn." Not
his alone of course, for this sentiment is shared by many. It was among the
sentiments my mother expressed over my father's funeral, and for this it has
become mine as well. Dunbar says it beautifully, while recalling loss and
pain in the same few stanzas. For other of my song settings to this classic
American poet, click
form is a simple AABA with a short coda of sorts. Dressed in shades of
quieter dynamics, it rises to recall the pains in life, and retires into
pianissimi to ponder the peace of death.
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
When All Is Done