The Ballad of the Harp Weaver (Barbara Rosen)

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  • (Posted 2020-01-01)  CPDL #56470:       
Editor: John Hetland (submitted 2020-01-01).   Score information: Letter, 7 pages, 580 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: The Ballad of the Harp Weaver
Composer: Barbara Rosen
Lyricist: Edna St. Vincent Millaycreate page

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularArt song

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

Composed: 2005
Description: Selected verses from "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver" by Edna St. Vincent Millay

External websites:

Original text

English.png English text

Men say the winter was bad that year
Fuel was scarce and food was dear.
A wind with a wolf's head howled about our door
And we burned up the chairs and sat upon the floor
All that was left us was a chair we couldn't break
And a harp with a woman's head nobody would take
for song or pity sake

In the deep night I felt my mother rise
And stare down upon me with love in her eyes
I saw my mother sitting on the one good chair
A light falling on her from I couldn't tell where
Looking nineteen and not a day older
And the harp with a woman's head leaned against her shoulder.

Her thin fingers moving in the thin tall strings
Were weave, weave, weaving wonderful things.
Many bright threads from where I couldn't see
Were running through the harp strings rapidly.

She sang as she worked and the harp strings spoke;
her voice never faltered and the thread never broke.
And when I awoke, there sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder
looking nineteen and not a day older.

A smile about her lips and a light about her head
And her hands in the harp strings frozen dead
And piled up beside her, toppling to the skies
Were the clothes of a king's son just my size.