Poem, Chant, Song

Recently I translated a few Marathi poems into English (see here). Each original poem is also a beautiful song, but only two or three of the translated English poems can be sung — most of them are not naturally singable.

So I started wondering, “What is a song? What makes a poem singable? How to figure out the answers to these questions?”, and pertinent to the translations, “How to make them song-poems?”

Let’s take a few reasonably diverse English songs and find out what makes them tick. The answer may well be applicable to songs in general, independent of their genre or even of their language.

What Makes Songs Tick

Let’s look at “You Got it All” by Jets, the hymn “Silent Night”, “Fernando” by ABBA, and “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. Excerpts are analyzed here; the full lyrics are given in the Appendix at the end of this page.

You Got it All

You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sByNZekTwCI.

I
I was a game he would play
He brought the clouds to my day
Then like a ray of light
You came my way one night
Just one look and I knew
You would make everything clear
Make all the clouds disappear
Put all your fears to rest
Who do I love the best
Don’t you know, don’t you know

Let’s take these first few lines and scan them metrically as a poem. By way of notation, a ‘^’ after a vowel indicates stress and a ‘_’ after a vowel indicates lack of stress, and the feet are lined up to make it easier to detect a pattern, should one exist.

I^           
I^ wa_s      | a_ ga^me      | he_ wou_ld play^   
He_ brou^ght | the_ clou^ds  | to my day^         
The^n li_ke  | a_ ray^       | o_f li^ght         
You^ ca_me   | my_ way^      | o_ne ni^ght        
Ju_st o^ne loo_k     |         a_nd I^ knew_      
You_ wou^ld  | ma_ke e^v     | ‘ry_thi_ng clea^r  
Ma_ke a^ll   | the_ clou^ds  | di_sa_ppea^r       
Pu_t a^ll    | you_r fea^rs  | to_ re^st          
Who^ do_     | I_ lo^ve      | the_ be^st         
Do^n't you_ know^,   |         do^n't you_ know^  
You^ go^t    | i_t a^ll      | o^ve_r hi^m        

Immediately one can observe that the “Just …” and the “Don’t …” lines, while scanning well in two feet, don’t follow the three-foot pattern of the rest of the lines.

The rhythm of the song for the lines as they appear in the lyrics is laid out in beats below. The notation ‘~’ represents a vowel elongation or a pause.

1     2       3     4      5     6     7      8       9  10  11  12
I     ~       ~     ~      ~     ~     ~      ~     
I     was     a     game   ~     he    would  play  
~     ~       ~     ~      ~     ~     ~      ~     
He    brought the   clouds ~     to    my     day     ~  ~   ~   ~ 
Then  like    a     ray    ~     of    light  ~     
You   came    my    way    ~     one   night  ~       ~  ~   ~   ~ 
~     Ju      st    one   look   and   I      knew  
~     ~       ~     ~      ~     ~     ~      ~     
You   would   make  ev     ~     ‘ry   thing  clear 
~     ~       ~     ~      ~     ~     ~      ~     
Make  all     the   clouds ~     dis   ap     pear    ~  ~   ~   ~ 
Put   all     your  fears  ~     to    rest   ~     
Who   do      I     love   ~     the   best   ~       ~  ~   ~   ~ 
~     Don’t you     know   don’t you   know   ~     

A pattern starts to emerge, with the rhymes “play”-“day” and “clear”-“pear” on the eighth beat, and “light”-“night” and “rest”-“best” on the seventh. But, as laid out, some lines have eight beats and others have twelve. Perhaps it is a twelve-beat song? Rearranging:

1    2       3     4      5     6   7     8      9   10   11   12
I    ~       ~     ~      ~     ~   ~     ~      I   was  a    game  
~    he      would play   ~     ~   ~     ~      ~   ~    ~    ~     
He   brought the   clouds ~     to  my    day    ~   ~    ~    ~     
Then like    a     ray    ~     of  light ~      You came my   way   
~    one     night ~      ~     ~   ~     ~      ~   Ju   st   one   
look and     I     knew   ~     ~   ~     ~      ~   ~    ~    ~     
You  would   make  ev     ~     ‘ry thing clear  ~   ~    ~    ~     
~    ~       ~     ~      Make  all the   clouds ~   dis  ap   pear  
~    ~       ~     ~      Put   all your  fears  ~   to   rest ~     
Who  do      I     love   ~     the best  ~      ~   ~    ~    ~     
~    Don’t   you   know   don’t you know  ~      You got  it   all   

Here we confirm that the “Just …” line breaks at “one”, suggesting that that line in the lyrics should be scanned:

Ju_st o^ne  | loo_k a_nd  | I^ knew_ |

The pattern is not so clear in twelve beats. The rhythm underlying the song repeats in four beats, which looks like so:

1     2       3     4      
I     ~       ~     ~      
~     ~       ~     ~      
I     was     a     game  
~     he      would play   
~     ~       ~     ~      
~     ~       ~     ~     
He    brought the   clouds 
~     to      my    day    
~     ~       ~     ~     
Then  like    a     ray    
~     of      light ~      
You   came    my    way   
~     one     night ~      
~     ~       ~     ~      
~     Ju      st    one   
look  and     I     knew   
~     ~       ~     ~      
~     ~       ~     ~     
You   would   make  ev     
~     ‘ry     thing clear  
~     ~       ~     ~     
~     ~       ~     ~      
Make  all     the   clouds 
~     dis     ap    pear  
~     ~       ~     ~      
Put   all     your  fears  
~     to      rest  ~     
Who   do      I     love   
~     the     best  ~      
~     ~       ~     ~     
~     Don’t   you   know   
don’t you    know  ~      
You   got    it    all   

This arrangement brings out the repeating rhymes and also helps us discover the “ray”-“way” internal rhyme. It also indicates that “Don’t …” line scans so:

Do^n't you_ | know^ | do^n't you_ | know^

Now we can form a few hypotheses and test or modify them using the other songs.

  • A song is a rhythmically recurring sound structure, the structure being characterized by rhyme, assonance, stress, or some significant voiced characteristic

How does the meter of the poetic scansion relate to the measures of the rhythmic beat? In this case, some feet are one measure (four beats), while other feet are two or even three measures (eight beats or twelve beats), while still others are half a measure (two beats). Perhaps we can hypothesize that

  • There is a rational relationship between feet in the metrical scansion and measures in the musical rhythm

Here, by rational we mean n feet correspond to m measures, where n and m are integers. For example, one foot is one measure, or one foot is two measures, or one foot is half a measure, etc.

Silent Night

You can listen to this song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Rh1xzpKc-o.

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

This first stanza scans so:

Si^le_nt ni^ght! | Ho^ly_ ni^ght!
A^ll i_s ca^lm   | a^ll i_s bri^ght
Rou^nd yo_n | vi^rgi_n | mo^the_r     | a_nd chi^ld
Ho^ly_      | i^nfa_nt | so_ te^nde_r | a_nd mi^ld
Slee^p i_n  | hea^ve_n | ly_ pea^ce!
Slee^p i_n  | hea^ve_n | ly_ pea^ce!

Notice the irregularity in the number of feet per line. May be the rhythm will indicate how the ratios of feet to measures work out. You will hear two different rhythms for this song in the recording, some singers singing it in repetitions of eight beats and others in six beats. Notice that the two rhythms differ only in the elongations or pauses given to various vowels.

Eight beat rhythm:

1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8
Si      ~       ~       lent    ni      ~       ~       ght
Ho      ~       ~       ly      ni      ~       ~       ght
A       ~       ll      is      ca      ~       ~       lm
A       ~       ll      is      bri     ~       ~       ght
Rou     ~       nd      yon     vi      ~       r       gin
mo      ~       ther    and     chi     ~       ~       ld
Ho      ~       ~       ly      in      ~       fant    so
ten     ~       der     and     mi      ~       ~       ld
Slee    ~       ~       p in    hea     ~       ven     ly
pea     ~       ~       ce      ~       ~       ~       ~
Slee    ~       ~       p in    hea     ~       ven     ly
pea     ~       ~       ce      ~       ~       ~       ~

Six beat rhythm:

1       2       3       4       5       6
Si      ~       lent    ni      ~       ght
Ho      ~       ly      ni      ~       ght
A       ll      is      ca      ~       lm
A       ll      is      bri     ~       ght
Rou     nd      yon     vi      r       gin
mo      ther    and     chi     ~       ld
Ho      ~       ly      in      fant    so
ten     der     and     mi      ~       ld
Slee    ~       p in    hea     ven     ly
pea     ~       ce      ~       ~       ~
Slee    ~       p in    hea     ven     ly
pea     ~       ce      ~       ~       ~

The rhythm indicates that the scansion must be changed to be so:

Si^le_nt      | ni^gt!       
Ho^ly_        | ni^ght!      
A^ll i_s      | ca^lm        
a^ll i_s      | bri^ght       
Rou^nd yo_n   | vi^rgi_n     
mo^the_r a_nd | chi^ld       
Ho^ly_        | i^nfa_nt so_ 
te^nde_r a_nd | mi^ld        
Slee^p i_n    | hea^ve_nly_
pea^ce!
Slee^p i_n    | hea^ve_nly_
pea^ce!

With this scansion, each foot is one measure (three or four beats, depending on how it’s sung), except for “peace” which is two measures. Further, it alters the scan of some feet such as:

i^nfa_nt so_ | te^nde_r a_nd
...
hea^ve_nly_  | pea^ce!

Fernando

You can listen to this song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8bm6XlxuCY.

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando

This refrain scans so:

The^re wa_s  | so^methi_ng      | i_n the_ ai^r | tha_t ni^ght
The_ sta^rs  | we_re bri^ght,   | Fe_rna^ndo_
The^y we_re  | shi^ni_ng the^re | fo_r you^     | a_nd me^
Fo_r li^     | be_rty_,         | Fe_rna^ndo_
Thou^gh we_  | ne^ve_r thou^ght | tha_t we^     | cou_ld lo^se
The_re's no^ | re_gre^t
I_f I^       | ha^d to_ do^     | the_ sa^me    | a_gai^n
I_ wou^ld,   | my_ frie^nd,     | Fe_rna^ndo_

A minimalist rhythmic rendering (compressing each elongation or pause into one beat, except for “Fernando” which serves like a refrain within the refrain) gives us:

1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8
There   was     some    thing   in      the     air     ~
that    night   ~       the     stars   ~       were    bright
~       Fer     nan     ~       do      ~       ~       ~
They    were    shi     ning    there   for     you     ~
and     me      ~       for     li      ~       ber     ty
~       Fer     nan     ~       do      ~       ~       ~
Though  we      ne      ver     thought that    we      could
~       lose    ~       there’s no      re      gret    ~
If      I       had     to      do      the     same    ~
a       gain    ~       I       would   ~       my      friend
~       Fer     nan     ~       do      ~       ~       ~

The corresponding scansion, rearranging the lines, is:

The^re wa_s  | so^methi_ng      | i_n the_ ai^r  |
tha_t ni^ght | The_ sta^rs      | we_re bri^ght, |
Fe_rna^ndo_
The^y we_re  | shi^ni_ng the^re | fo_r you^      |
a_nd me^     | Fo_r li^         | be_rty_,       |
Fe_rna^ndo_
Thou^gh we_  | ne^ve_r thou^ght | tha_t we^      | cou_ld
lo^se        | The_re's no^     | re_gre^t       |
I_f I^       | ha^d to_ do^     | the_ sa^me     |
a_gai^n      | I_ wou^ld,       | my_ frie^nd,   |
Fe_rna^ndo_

This is so close: only the “could” hangs at the end of a line and its corresponding “lose” at the beginning of the next. Note, however, that in the song the elongations are variable, and the lines start off-measure, thus:

1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       
                                                There   was     
some    thing   in      the     air     ~       that    night   
~       ~       the     stars   ~       ~       were    bright  
~       ~       Fer     nan     ~       ~       do      ~       
~       ~       They    were    shi     ning    there   for     
you     ~       and     me      ~       ~       for     li      
~       ~       ber     ty      ~       ~       Fer     nan     
~       ~       do      ~       ~       ~       Though  we      
ne      ver     thought that    we      could   ~       lose    
~       ~       there’s no      re      gret    ~       ~       
~       ~       ~       ~       If      I       had     to      
do      the     same    ~       a       gain    ~       ~       
I       would   ~       my      friend  ~       Fer     nan     
~       ~       do      ~       ~       ~       

The rhythmic recurrence can be seen with “night”-“bright” and “me”-“ty” repeating on the fourth note of the measure, and “Fer” repeating on the third. “There was” and “something” take up half measures, “in the air” takes up one measure, and “Fernando” takes up two.

Some scansions need to be updated, such as:

shi^ni_ng | the^re fo_r | you^ a_nd me^
ne^ve_r | thou^ght tha_t | we^ cou_ld lo^se 
ha^d to_ | do^ the_ sa^me

The final scansion is:

The^re wa_s  | so^methi_ng      | i_n the_ ai^r  | tha_t ni^ght 
The_ sta^rs  | we_re bri^ght,   | Fe_rna^ndo_
The^y we_re  | shi^ni_ng        | the^re fo_r    | you^ a_nd me^   
Fo_r li^     | be_rty_,         | Fe_rna^ndo_
Thou^gh we_  | ne^ve_r          | thou^ght tha_t | we^ cou_ld lo^se        
The_re's no^ | re_gre^t       
I_f I^       | ha^d to_         | do^ the_ sa^me | a_gai^n      
I_ wou^ld,   | my_ frie^nd,     | Fe_rna^ndo_

Come Away with Me

You can listen to this song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLrYUfX-r3Y.

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

Come away with me on a bus
Come away where they can’t tempt us
With their lies

These first few lines scan so:

Co_me a^way_       | wi_th me^           | i_n the_ ni^ght
Co_me a^way_       | wi_th me^
A_nd I^            | wi_ll wri^te        | you^ a_ so^ng
Co_me a^way_       | wi_th me^           | o_n a_ bu^s
Co_me a^way_       | whe_re they_ ca^n't | te^mpt u^s
Wi_th thei_r lie^s

The song is rendered in six beats thus (eliding some full measure pauses):

1       2       3       4       5       6
Come    aw      ay      with    me      ~
~       in      the     night   ~       ~
Come    aw      ay      with    me      ~
And     I       ~       will    wri     te
you     ~       ~       a       so      ng
Come    aw      ay      with    me      ~
~       on      a       bus     ~       ~
Come    aw      ay      where   they    ~
can't   te      mpt     us      ~       ~
With    their   lies    ~       ~       ~

Rearranging the scansion, we get:

Co_me a^way_       | wi_th me^           
i_n the_ ni^ght    
Co_me a^way_       | wi_th me^           
A_nd I^            | wi_ll wri^te        
you^ a_ so^ng      
Co_me a^way_       | wi_th me^           
o_n a_ bu^s        
Co_me a^way_       | whe_re they_        
ca^n't te^mpt      | u^s 
Wi_th thei_r lie^s  

Notes on Theory

This study confirms what we know intuitively, that a song is a rhythmically recurring sound structure, the structure being characterized by rhyme, assonance, stress, or some significant voiced characteristic.

It also confirms that the feet in a poem’s metrical structure and measures in the song’s rhythmic structure correspond with a rational relationship. Furthermore, each foot can have a different rational relationship with the measure, thereby regulating the pace of the rendering.

There is no discernible relationship between natural stress and the sung rendering. Perhaps this enters into qualitative differences between songs – making some better than others depending on how stress falls on up- or down-beats of rhythm.

The two different aspects of a song can be separated: the rhythmic structure and the tonal variation. When a poem is recited with just the rhythmic structure and minimal tonal variation, we get chanting. Chanting is the heightened recitation of a poem for rendering it’s scansion into a rhythmic structure. Hence, stress, length, and other characteristics of speech are important to and must be natural and present in chanting. When tonal variation is added, and some of the speech characteristics such as stress possibly removed, the vocalization becomes a song.

This last point corresponds to Bernstein’s insight (see here)) that [western] music is characterized by chromatic freedom (in our case the tonal variation of singing) contained in a diatonic framework (in our case the meter-measure relationship).

Chanting

Chanting of poetry is an ancient tradition and art. How does our study help with chanting of English poetry?

Savitri

Chanting of high spiritual or mantric poetry is especially of interest. This first example is taken from the canto “Heavens of the Ideal”.

Always the Ideal beckoned from afar.
Awakened by the touch of the Unseen,
Deserting the boundary of things achieved,
Aspired the strong discoverer, tireless Thought,
Revealing at each step a luminous world.

This breaks into measures for chanting as:

A^lway_s       the_ I_dea^l       be^cko_ned          fro_m a_fa^r.
A_wa^ke_ned    by_ the_ tou^ch    o_f the_ U_nsee^n,  ~
De_se^rti_ng   the_ bou^nda_ry_   o_f thi^ngs         a_chie^ved,
A_spi^red      the_ stro^ng di_s  co^ve_re_r,         ti^rele_ss Thou^ght,
Re_vea^li_ng   a_t ea_ch ste^p    a_ lu^mi_nou_s      wo^rld.

This falls naturally into a sixteen beat rhythm with four beats per measure. It is shown here with eight beats for compactness, but it should be read as a cycle of sixteen beats.

1       2        3       4       5        6          7          8       
A^l     way_s    ~       ~       the_     I_         de^        a_l
be^ck   o_ned    ~       ~       fro_m    a_         fa^r       ~
A_      wa^k     e_ned   ~       by_      the_       tou^ch     ~
o_f     the_     U_n     see^n   ~        ~          ~          ~
De_     se^r     ti_ng   ~       the_     bou^n      da_        ry_
o_f     thi^ngs  ~       ~       a_       chie^ved,  ~          ~
A_s     pi^      red     ~       ~        the_       stro^ng    di_s
co^     ve_      re_r,   ~       ti^re    le_ss      Thou^ght,  ~
Re_     vea^     li_ng   ~       a_t      ea_ch      ste^p      ~
a_      lu^      ~       mi_     nou_s    wo^rld.    ~          ~   

Here’s another example, the first few lines of Savitri:

It was the hour before the Gods awake.
Across the path of the divine Event
The huge foreboding mind of Night, alone
In her unlit temple of eternity,
Lay stretched immobile upon Silence’ marge.

This chants naturally in a cycle of twelve beats. It is shown here with six beats for compactness, but it should be read as a cycle of twelve beats. As we saw with Silent Night, this chant can be extended to sixteen beats with elongation without affecting the metrical structure.

1        2           3        4          5        6              
I_t      wa_s        the_     hou^r      ~        be_      
fo^re    the_        Go^ds    a_         wa^ke.   ~
A_c      ro^ss       the_     pa^th      ~        o_f      
the_     di_         vi^ne    ~          E_       ve^nt
The_     hu^ge       ~        fo_re      bo^      di_ng    
mi^nd    o_f         Ni^ght   ~          a_       lo^ne
I_n      he_r        u^n      li_t       te^m     ple_     
~        o_f         e_t      e^r        ni_      ty_
La_y     stre^tched  ~        I^m        mo_      bi^le    
~        u_p         o^n      Si^        le_nce'  ma^rge.

The relationship between the meter and measure is trickier here. The immediate scansion is:

I_t wa_s        | the_ hou^r  | be_fo^re    | the_ Go^ds | a_wa^ke.
A_cro^ss        | the_ pa^th  | o_f the_    | di_vi^ne   | E_ve^nt
The_ hu^ge      | fo_rebo^    | di_ng mi^nd | o_f Ni^ght | a_lo^ne
I_n he_r        | u^nli_t     | te^mple_    | o_f e_te^r | ni_ty_
La_y stre^tched | I^mmo_bi^le | u_po^n      | Si^le_nce' | ma^rge.

For the first line, the first foot has two beats, the second foot has three beats, and so on. It progresses as:

2 3 2 2 3
2 3 2 3 2
3 2 2 3 2
2 2 3 3 2
3 4 2 2 1

We can augment our notation to incorporate scansion, rhythm, and stress in a single format by annotating the feet divisions with the number of beats in the corresponding feet.

I_t wa_s        |2  the_ hou^r  |3  be_fo^re    |2  the_ Go^ds |2  a_wa^ke. |3
A_cro^ss        |2  the_ pa^th  |3  o_f the_    |2  di_vi^ne   |3  E_ve^nt  |2
The_ hu^ge      |3  fo_rebo^    |2  di_ng mi^nd |2  o_f Ni^ght |3  a_lo^ne  |2
I_n he_r        |2  u^nli_t     |2  te^mple_    |3  o_f e_te^r |3  ni_ty_   |2
La_y stre^tched |3  I^mmo_bi^le |4  u_po^n      |2  Si^le_nce' |2  ma^rge.  |1

Here’s another example from Savitri:

She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.
The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,
A power of silence in the depths of God;
She is the Force, the inevitable Word,

This also chants in a cycle of twelve beats, shown compactly in six columns.

1        2           3        4          5        6              
She^     i_s         the_     go^l       de_n     bri^dge,
the_     wo^n        de_r     fu_l       fi^      re.
The_     lu^         mi_      nou_s      hea^rt   ~
o_f      the_        U_n      know^n     i_s      She^,
A_       po^         we_r     o_f        si^      le_nce
i_n      the_        de^pths  o_f        Go^d;    ~
She^     ~           i_s      the_       Fo^rce,  ~
the_     'ne^        vi_      ta_        ble_     Wo^rd,

Using our notation:

She^ i_s the_ |3 go^lde_n      |2 bri^dge, the_    |2 wo^nde_r       |2 fu_l fi^re. |3
The_ lu^      |2 mi_nou_s      |2 hea^rt o_f the_  |4 U_nknow^n      |2 i_s She^,   |2
A_ po^we_r    |3 o_f si^le_nce |3 i_n the_ de^pths |3 o_f Go^d;      |3
She^ i_s      |3 the_ Fo^rce,  |3 the_ ine^vi_     |3 ta_ble_ Wo^rd, |3

Shakespeare, Whitman

Here are a few lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet soliloquy.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

They scan in sixteen beats so:

1       2        3       4       5        6          7          8       
To_     be^,     ~       o_r     no^t     to_        be^,       ~
~       tha^t    i_s     the_    que^s    tio_n:     ~          ~
Whe^    the_r    ~       'ti_s   No^      ~          ble_r      ~
i_n     the_     mi^nd   ~       to_      su^f       fe_r       ~
The_    Sli^ngs  ~       a_nd    A^r      row_s      ~          ~
o-f     ou_t     ra^ge   ~       ou_s     Fo^r       tu_ne,     ~
O_r     to_      ta^ke   A^rms   ~        ~          a_         gai^nst
a_      Sea^     ~       o_f     trou^    ble_s,     ~          ~

With this rhythm, the scansion can be fixed as:

To_ be^,     |3  o_r no^t      |2  to_ be^,   |4  tha^t i_s  |2  the_ que^stio_n: |5
Whe^the_r    |3  'ti_s No^     |3  ble_r i_n  |3  the_ mi^nd |3  to_ su^ffe_r     |4
The_ Sli^ngs |3  a_nd A^rrow_s |5  o-f ou_t   |2  ra^geou_s  |3  Fo^rtu_ne,       |3
O_r to_      |2  ta^ke A^rms   |4  a_gai^nst  |2  a_ Sea^    |3  o_f trou^ble_s,  |5

Here are a couple of extracts from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

This one chants in sixteen beats so. Notice the rhythmically recurrent sound structures “any more” and “than there is now”, the rhythmic symmetry to symmetrical concepts such as “youth”-“age”, “heaven”-“hell”, and equal elongation of “urge”.

1       2        3       4       5        6          7          8       
The^re  wa_s     ne^     ve_r    ~        a^         ny_        mo^re
i_n     ce^p     tio_n   tha_n   the_re   i_s        now^,      ~
No_r    a^       ny_     mo^re   you^th   ~          ~          o_r
a^ge    ~        ~       tha_n   the_re   i_s        now^,      ~
A_nd    wi_ll    ne^     ve_r    be_      a^         ny_        mo^re
pe_r    fe^c     tio_n   tha_n   the_re   i_s        now^,      ~
No_r    a^       ny_     mo^re   hea^     ve_n       ~          o_r
he^ll   ~        ~       tha_n   the_re   i_s        now^.      ~ 
U^rge   ~        ~       a_nd    u^rge    ~          ~          a_nd
u^rge,  ~        ~       ~       ~        ~          ~          ~ 
~       ~        ~       ~       ~        ~          ~          ~ 
A^l     way_s    ~       ~       the_     pro^       crea_nt    ~
u^rge   ~        ~       ~       o_f      the_       wo^rld.    ~ 

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?
What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?

This also chants in sixteen beats:

1          2       3        4       5       6          7          8       
Who^       goe^    the_re?  ~       ha^n    ke_r       i_ng       ~         
gro^ss     ~       my^s     ti_     ca_l    ~          nu^de      ~
How^       i_s     i_t      ~       I^      e_x        tra^ct     ~
stre^ngth  ~       fro_m    the_    bee^f   I^         ea^t       ~
Wha^t      i_s     a_       ma^n    a^      ny_        how^?      ~
wha^t      a_m     I^?      ~       wha^t   a_re       you^?      ~

Songs Again

Coming back to the initial topic, some of the translated poems can be sung or transformed into songs rather readily. The first two given here, Ketaki and Ruperi, are already songs, while the third, Shyam, needs to be transformed into one.

Ketaki

The translation is here.

The fragrant bloom
The colored plume
The gentle rain that mists the air

The memory of
Our song so soft
Is humming still but you’re not there

I thought I heard
Today a word
A stolen look but I was wrong

The moon is bright
In the soul of night
The nightingale can sing no song

The rainbow dream
The lily stream
The lovelorn notes in dream despair

The memory of
Our song so soft
Is humming still but you’re not there

This Ketaki song sings in four-beat measures.

1        2        3       4
The_     fra^g    ra_nt   bloo^m
The_     co^      lo_red  plu^me
The_     gen^     tle_    rai^n
tha_t    mi^sts   the_    ai^r
The_     me^m     'ry_    o_f
Ou_r     so^ng    so_     so^ft
I_s      hu^m     mi_ng   sti^ll
bu_t     you^’re  no_t    the^re
~        ~        ~       ~
~        ~        ~       ~
I_       thou^ght I_      hea^rd
To_      day^     a_      wo^rd
A_       sto^     le_n    loo^k
bu_t     I^       wa_s    wro^ng
The_     moo^n    i_s     bri^ght
I_n the_ sou^l    o_f     ni^ght
The_     ni^gh    ti_n    ga^le
ca_n     si^ng    no^     so_ng
~        ~        ~       ~
~        ~        ~       ~
The_     ra^in    bow_    drea^m
The_     li^      ly_     strea^m
The_     lo^ve    lo^rn   no^tes
i_n      drea^m   de_s    pai^r
The_     me^m     'ry_    o_f
Ou_r     so^ng    so_     so^ft
I_s      hu^m     mi_ng   sti^ll
bu_t     you^’re  no_t    the^re
~        ~        ~       ~
~        ~        ~       ~

Notice the quickening of “In the” before “soul of night” and the subtle variation in stress such as “memory of”, “sing no song”, and “lovelorn notes”.

Ruperi

The translation is here.

On the shining silver beaches
Where the moonlight softly reaches

The coconuts grove in palm tree rows
Come into love
Come into love and take me close

Indication fills in my heart
On my body little quakes start

Drunk the sky above and the mad wind blows
Come into love
Come into love and take me close

Flowers glow in shy surrender
Cheeks are fresh with a love song tender

Night beckons and now in your arms I repose
Come into love
Come into love and take me close

This Ruperi song has two rhythmic patterns, one for the initial couplets in four-beat measures, and another for the refrain stanzas in six-beat measures.

1        2        3       4
O_n      the_     shi^    ni_ng
si_l     ve_r     bea^    che_s
Whe_re   the_     moo^n   li^ght
so_ft    ly_      rea^    che_s
1        2        3       4       5       6 
~        The_     co^     co_     nu_ts   gro^ve
~        i_n      pa^lm   tree^   row_s   ~
~        ~        ~       ~       ~       ~
Co^me    i_n      to_     lo^ve   ~       ~
Co^me    i_n      to_     lo^ve   ~       a_nd
ta^ke    me_      clo^se  ~       ~       ~
~        ~        ~       ~       ~       ~
1        2        3       4
In       di       ca      tion
fills    in       my      heart
On       my       bo      dy
lit      tle      quakes  start
1        2        3       4       5       6 
~        Drunk    the     sky      a      bove
and      the      mad     wind     blows  ~
~        ~        ~       ~       ~       ~
Co^me    i_n      to_     lo^ve   ~       ~
Co^me    i_n      to_     lo^ve   ~       a_nd
ta^ke    me_      clo^se  ~       ~       ~
~        ~        ~       ~       ~       ~
1        2        3       4
Flo      wers     glow    in
shy      sur      ren     der
Cheeks   are      fresh   with
a love   song     ten     der
1        2        3       4       5       6 
~        Night    bec     kons    and     now
in       your     arms    I       re      pose
~        ~        ~       ~       ~       ~
Co^me    i_n      to_     lo^ve   ~       ~
Co^me    i_n      to_     lo^ve   ~       a_nd
ta^ke    me_      clo^se  ~       ~       ~
~        ~        ~       ~       ~       ~

Variation in stress is provided by “moonlight”, “palm tree rows”, “my heart”, and “quakes start”. “Love song tender” could be shortened to “Love so tender” for better flow. Notice the extended “repose” sub-line.

Shyam

The translation is here.

Not a penny was spent, no price was paid,
My Shyam I possess — O, the sale was made.

Some say I borrowed, some that I lured,
In each breath of my life his name endured.

Cowherd on the river, slave of the saint,
Vitthal and Ram and names many and feigned,

Named by his owners, their hearts are his homes:
Meek and nameless, incognito he roams.

This scans so:

No^t a_ pe^   | nny_ wa_s spe^nt, |
no_ pri^ce    | wa_s pai^d,       |
My_ Shya^m    | I_ po_sse^ss      |
O^ the_ sa^le | wa_s ma^de.       |

And chants so:

1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8
Not     a       pe      nny     was     spent,  ~       ~
no      pri     ce      was     pai     ~       ~       d,
My      Shya    ~       m       I       po      ssess   ~
O,      ~       the     sale    was     ma      ~       de.

The language of this poem is just a tad heavy and needs to be simplified for easy, colloquial singing:

No money was spent
No price was paid
Shyam in my heart
The sale was made
O the sale was made

You say I borrowed
You say I lured
You know in each breath
His name endured
O his name endured

Cowherd on the river
Slave of the saint
His names are many
His names are feigned
O his names are feigned

He is called by his owners
Their hearts are his homes
He is nameless and meek
Incognito he roams
O incognito he roams

This scans so (first stanza):

No_ mo^ney_ | wa_s spe^nt
No_ pri^ce  | wa_s pai^d
Shya^m i_n  | my_ hea^rt
The_ sa^le  | wa_s ma^de
O^
The_ sa^le  | wa_s ma^de

And sings so:

1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8
No      mo      ~       ney     was     spe     ~       nt
No      pri     ~       ce      was     pai     ~       d
Shya    ~       m       in      my      hea     ~       rt
The     sa      ~       le      was     ma      ~       de
O       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~
The     sa      ~       le      was     ma      ~       de
You     say     ~       I       bor     ~       rowed   ~
You     say     ~       I       lured   ~       ~       ~
You     know    ~       in      each    ~       breath  ~
His     name    ~       en      dured   ~       ~       ~
O       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~
His     name    ~       en      dured   ~       ~       ~
Cow     herd    ~       on      the     ri      ver     ~
Slave   ~       ~       of      the     saint   ~       ~
His     names   ~       are     ma      ny      ~       ~
His     names   ~       are     feigned ~       ~       ~
O       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~
His     names   ~       are     feigned ~       ~       ~
He      is      called  ~       by      his     ow      ners
Their   hearts  ~       are     his     homes   ~       ~
He      is      name    less    and     meek    ~       ~
In      cog     ni      to      he      roams   ~       ~
O       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~       ~
In      cog     ni      to      he      roams   ~       ~

Proof of the Pudding

What does the chanting and singing sound like, you ask? Here’s a recording of the samples and songs we studied. I must warn you that I am no singer, nor a chanter. So just imagine a trained voice and the whole orchestra in the background …

Continued in Comments

Please continue reading and listening to more experiments and others’ contributions in the comments section below.

Appendix: Song Lyrics

You Got it All

I
I was a game he would play
He brought the clouds to my day
Then like a ray of light
You came my way one night
Just one look and I knew
You would make everything clear
Make all the clouds disappear
Put all your fears to rest
Who do I love the best
Don’t you know, don’t you know

You got it all over him
You got me over him
Honey it’s true
There’s just you
You must have been heaven sent
Hearing me call you went
Out on a limb
And you’re all that he’s not
Just look what I got
Cause you got it all
Over him

No, don’t let him worry you so
Once I met you I let go
Oh you can surely see
You’re so much more to me
Just one look and I knew
You would make everything clear
Make all the clouds disappear
You’re better than all the rest
Who do I love the best
Don’t you know, don’t you know

You got it all over him
You got me over him
Honey it’s true
There’s just you
You must have been heaven sent
Hearing me call you went
Out on a limb
And you’re all that he’s not
Just look what I got
Cause you got it all
All over him
(You got it all over him, You got me over him)
Honey it’s true there’s just you
You must have been heaven sent
Hearing me call you went
Out on a limb
And you’re all that he’s not
Just look what I got
Cause you got it all
All over him

Silent Night

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Fernando

Can you hear the drums Fernando?
I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight Fernando
You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar
I could hear the distant drums
And sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar

They were closer now Fernando
Every hour every minute seemed to last eternally
I was so afraid Fernando
We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die
And I’m not ashamed to say
The roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando

Now we’re old and grey Fernando
And since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand
Can you hear the drums Fernando?
Do you still recall the fateful night we crossed the Rio Grande?
I can see it in your eyes
How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
Yes, if I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando…

Come Away with Me

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

Come away with me on a bus
Come away where they can’t tempt us
With their lies

And I wanna walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come

Come away with me and we’ll kiss
On a mountain top
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you

I wanna wake up with the rain
Falling on a tin roof
While I’m safe there in your arms
So all I ask is for you
To come away with me in the night
Come away with me

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19 thoughts on “Poem, Chant, Song

  1. Akash, this was a great read. Very enlightening. I’m only part way through.

    Why do you draw the feet at specific places? e.g. in the Jets song second line, the first foot is after ^ _, Does one stress (ictus?) and one non-stress comprise a feet?

    Also, if you ever get some time, I’d be grateful if you could do an iambic pentameter for dummies post. And also haiku. I don’t think I get the stresses ever right.

    Sandeep

  2. Thank you, SG.

    Re where do you draw the feet: this very question came up in the comments section of Kau (https://akashdeshpande.wordpress.com/about/translations-from-marathi/kau/)

    There are various feet defined for English stressed metrical scansion. The link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_(prosody) or http://www.savitri.in/savitri/?q=content/mirror/scansion-table-of-feet/05-sep-2012/000245. Basically, you have n syllables (1, 2, 3, 4) and each can be stressed or non-stressed. Thus, there are two types of monosyllabic feet possible, though an unstressed monosyllable will not be a foot since it can be added to an adjacent foot, and a stressed monosyllable is very rare. There are four 2-syllable feet, eight 3-syllable feet, and sixteen of 4-syllable feet.

    While not explicitly called out or named in any of the tables, there is acknowledgment of monosyllabic feet (see http://www.scribblingrivalry.com/rsvp_metre.htm#monosyllabic%20foot), which I have used once in a while in the scansion studies, especially after accounting for how the lines are sung.

    Two references were given by RYD for understanding how to scan poetry: All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing by Timothy, and Metres of English Poetry by Enid Hamer.

    All this said, it’s still a matter of feel and intuition and detection of sound units and gaps and caesurae. I found that arriving at the scansion from both poetic meter and chanting or singing rhythm gives it a firmer “footing”.

    Your question about “ictus” – this word means different things in different contexts. In music, it’s the first or stressed beat of the rhythm. In poetry, it is the stress used in scansion. If you look at Bernstein’s first lecture, he says normal speech is ictus + glide. Heightened speech is just ictus, and forms the basis of both chanting and singing (in the latter you vary the tone).

    Re iambic pentameter, there’s a Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iambic_pentameter. The turu-turu poem (https://akashdeshpande.wordpress.com/about/translations-from-marathi/turu-turu/) has iambic refrain, for e.g., but not pentametric:

    A swaying grace
    A rustling run
    A fragrant trace
    The slanting sun

    A_ sway^   | i_ng gra^ce
    A_ ru^s'   | li_ng ru^n
    A_ fra^g   | ra_nt tra^ce
    The_ sla^n | ti_ng su^n
    

    Your question on haiku is great – let me think about it for a while.

  3. Re haiku – first we have to understand what a mora is (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mora_(linguistics)). Fascinating. IMO a haiku is too short and supports too much diversity to look for meter or rhythm in general. We will have to take specific examples and try them out. Also, there’s a quality of revelation through juxtaposition or surprise which appeals to or through the mind, and mind wouldn’t normally be considered the center for a song as the heart would be.

    Examples from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/haiku-examples-of-haiku-poems.html:

    You rice-field maidens!
    The only things not muddy
    Are the songs you sing.

    You_ ri^ce-fie_ld | mai^de_ns
    The_ o^n | ly_ thi_ngs | no_t mu^ddy_
    A_re the_ so^ngs | you_ si^ng
    

    Cherry, apple, rose,
    blossoms in countless colors –
    each one of them pink.

    Che^rry_, | a^pple_, | ro^se,
    blo^sso_ms | i_n cou^nt | le_ss co^lo_rs -
    ea^ch o_ne | o_f the_m pi^nk.
    
  4. Lopa says: “Akash, read your article on chhanda. one has to train the ear which is not really a rational phenomenon. I mean there are words that can be stressed differently in different contexts, small words mostly, isn’t it?
    Lopa”

    Yes, monosyllables such as “I”, “you” etc. can go either way . But bigger words in English are pretty standard wrt stress (at least in each major dialect such as English, American, and so on). Eg. de_se^rt, de^se_rt, de_sse^rt mean different things.

    But I’m thinking of “Co_me a^way_ | wi_th me^ | i_n the_ ni^ght”. In every way I can think of reading it naturally, stress falls on a^way_. Yet, a_way^ could also be a reading, especially since quantitatively a is short and way is long. If it was “Come awake with me”, it would be a_wa^ke. If it was “Go away with me”, it would be a_way^. So stress does have influence from surrounding words/sounds, and probably based on speaker, – at least for the “fluid” words like away.

    When you mix languages, such as in “The kokila’s dulcet call” (https://akashdeshpande.wordpress.com/about/translations-from-marathi/kokila/), “kokila” is not stressed but rather it’s quantitative per Indian languages. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with such a mixture.

  5. Can you fix the RSS feed for posts? The comments feed works but the post feed doesn’t for some reason.

  6. It’s probably because they are pages and not posts in order to get a hierarchical structure like a table of contents in the margin. What I could do is, for each new page, also make a post that links to that page.

  7. From Aditi:

    Oh I just read Akash’s : Poem – Chant – Song. It is an excellent move to understand n relate the overt music in Songs n the covert music in Poems !
    His translation is so dewy n beautiful. I couldn’t help getting into its spirit and just sang the song spontaneously !
    It should be sung by a trained voice. Anshu can sing to the accompaniment of guitar.
    Mine is only from my heart.
    Warm regards to Akash.

    Hi Aditi,
    Thank you for the kind words. Your rendering of the ketaki song is lovely. May I post it as a comment on that blog post? Who is Anshu? It will be great to hear her version.
    Thanks,
    -Akash

    Yes u can if u think it will give joy. Anshu is my niece, my brother’s daughter, mother of a lovely 6 year old son Rishi. She sings beautiful both English n Indian music. Her father, my brother Raj is a master classical singer. So she’s inherited it.
    U must come to B’lore sometime n share with our pupils Pleasures of Poetry ! It will leave an indelible mark on them.
    Take care n enjoy the infinity of Poetry.
    Warm affection.

    Ketaki sung by Aditi:

    Some more comments by Aditi sent to RYD:
    It was wonderful to hear him chant the poems n Savitri lines.
    His voice has depth n a unique mantric appeal. We can hear your voice in his.
    This reading makes one aware of the hidden inbuilt music in inspired poetry.
    His translations Ketaki Ruperi n Shyam are lovely n lilting specially the first one Ketaki.
    The Poetic Muse sits firmly in his young heart mind n voice !
    Thanks so much for this rare joy.
    Aditi

    Ketaki sung by Anshu:

  8. Here’s my melodic take on the ketaki song:

    Pardon my lack of musical chops – I’d like it not to be so regular. For example, I’d like the “The” in “The gentle rain”, the “Is” in “Is humming still”, and the other first syllables in the last lines of each stanza to be a higher pitch than they are in my rendering, probably 1-2 notes above or below the second syllable

  9. Comment by Aditi:

    Oh it is very appealing. That little note going up at end of the refrain ‘but ur not there. !’ That expresses the loving chide n implied question as to why ur not there ! ? In the female version there is a cri de coeur in soft anguish. But in the male version there is apt strength n missing !
    Its a rounded rhythm. Its got volume. Sounds good on piano.
    The little rising note is very expressive, as if sung with a smile, though a sad one. I love it.
    Thanks Akash.

    And:
    Your rendering of Ketaki Song with piano is very fine. A sad song sung with the confidence of love. That is the beauty of ur version.

  10. Shyam as a bhajan in English

    No money was spent
    No price was paid
    Shyam in my heart
    The sale was made

    Some say I borrowed
    Some that I lured
    In each breath of my life
    His name endured

    Cowherd on the river
    Slave of the saint
    His names are many
    His names are feigned
      Many are his names
      Wide is his fame

    Called by his owners
    Their hearts are his homes
    Nameless and meek
    Incognito he roams

    -o-

    The usual disclaimers apply about me not being a singer or composer. The novel concept here is to render this song in the style of a Marathi bhajan. It is set to a Bhajani Theka rhythm simulated in Garage Band. Kindly imagine a trained bhajan singer accompanied by proficient tambora, peti, and tabla players, with chiplya etc.

    [Removed this version—see below]

    Ok, so that doesn’t sound half as good as I hear it in my mind – but I think the main point being made is that there is a bhajan-like rhythmic structure that supports a (better-composed-and-sung) melodic structure for this poem/song whose content is fit to be a bhajan being the translation of one. Also, instead of a straight up bhajan, the English indicates a touch of the blues for the melody, especially in the syllable elongations. May be some musician will get inspired to explore this avenue – and if you do, please post the result here with thanks in advance.

    -o-

    Here’s another version – it has the same vocal track but the simulated drums have been replaced by a basic bhajani theka on tabla by yours truly. (I really need to get a good microphone, btw. The tabla sounds rather flat in the recording even though it sounded alright when I played it.)

  11. Here’s a song version of “Ghana” (https://akashdeshpande.wordpress.com/about/translations-from-marathi/ghana/):

    My flowers few
    Tossed in the breeze
    Their fragrance flew
    In a wild release

    I have no home
    I have no way
    I will be free
    My mind will sway

    And I will dare
    And I will dance
    And I’ll step out
    In a peacock prance

    The flute has called
    The storm has rushed
    My mind unwalled
    A flood has hushed

    I am free
    I am free
    I am free
    I am free

    The rhythm could be something like:

    My      flo     wers    few     ~       ~       ~       ~
    Tossed  in      the     breeze  ~       ~       ~       ~
    Their   frag    rance   flew    ~       ~       ~       ~
    In a    wild    re      lease   ~       ~       ~       ~
    
    I       have    no      home    ~       ~       ~       ~
    I       have    no      way     ~       ~       ~       ~
    I       will    be      free    ~       ~       ~       ~
    My      mind    will    sway    ~       ~       ~       ~
    
    And     I       will    dare    ~       ~       ~       ~
    And     I       will    dance   ~       ~       ~       ~
    And     I'll    step    out     ~       ~       ~       ~
    In      a       peacock prance  ~       ~       ~       ~
    
    The     flute   has     called  ~       ~       ~       ~
    The     storm   has     rushed  ~       ~       ~       ~
    My      mind    un      walled  ~       ~       ~       ~
    A       flood   has     hushed  ~       ~       ~       ~
    
    ~       I       am      free    ~       ~       ~       ~
    ~       I       am      free    ~       ~       ~       ~
    ~       I       am      free    ~       ~       ~       ~
    ~       I       am      free    ~       ~       ~       ~
    

    and the tone and volume could rise towards a crescendo.

  12. This translation https://akashdeshpande.wordpress.com/about/more-translations/pakhare/ sings as follows:

    1        2        3        4        5        6
    
                                                 On
    wings    ~        they     come     ~        On
    wings    ~        de       part     ~        And
    leave    ~        their    me       ~        mo
    ries     ~        ~        ~        ~        A
    day      ~        of       joy      ~        With
    friends  ~        and      kin      ~        A
    day      ~        of       re       ~        ve
    ries     ~        ~        ~        ~        The
    ten      ~        der      moon     ~        Be
    hind     ~        the      tree     ~        ~
    Bri      ~        ghten    ing      ~        the
    night    ~        ~        ~        ~        The
    flo      wer      in       bloom    ~        ~
    Mea      sur      ing      death    ~        For
    e        ~        ver      scents   ~        the
    site     ~        ~        ~        ~        A
    sha      ~        king     hand     ~        Un
    sure     ~        at       first    ~        Is
    close    ~        ly       held     ~        with
    love     ~        ~        ~        ~        ~
    Can      ~        dles     burn     ~        ing
    In       ~        the      sanc     ~        tum
    To       wards    ~        God      ~        a
    bove     ~        ~        ~        ~        Un
    seen     ~       un        known    ~        Our
    paths    ~       have      crossed  ~        A
    song     ~       is        sung     ~        un
    heard    ~       ~         ~        ~        The
    bal      lad     of        hearts   ~        ~
    Joined   ~       in        love     ~        Is
    sung     ~       by        bird     ~        and
    bird     ~       ~         ~        ~        On
    wings    ~        they     come     ~        On
    wings    ~        de       part     ~        And
    leave    ~        their    me       ~        mo
    ries     ~        ~        ~        ~        A
    day      ~        of       joy      ~        With
    friends  ~        and      kin      ~        A
    day      ~        of       re       ~        ve
    ries     ~        ~        ~        ~        ~
    

    By now you know that I am not a singer. So with that caveat, here’s an attempt at giving this song a melody. I have removed the couplet “Shaking hand … Candles burning” to make it shorter and easier for me to sing.

    Here’s another take, a bit faster, less wistful, more dramatic.

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