The Silver Stag

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The Silver Stag

My silver stag is fallen–on the grass

Under the birch-trees he lies, my king of the woods,

That I followed on the mountain, over the swift streams,

He is gone under the leaves, under the past.

On the horizon of the dawn he stood,

The target of my eager sight ; that shone

Oh from the sun, or from my kindled heart–

Outlined in sky, shaped on the infinite.

What, so desiring, was my will with him,

What wished-for union of blood and thought

In single passion held us, hunter and victim ?

Already gone, when into the branched woods I pursued him.

Mine he is now, my desired, my awaited, my beloved,

Quiet he lies, as I touch the contours of his proud head,

Mine, the horror, this carrion of the wood,

Already melting underground, into the air, out of the world.

Oh, the stillness, the peace about me

As the garden lives on, the flowers bloom,

The fine grass shimmers, the flies burn,

And the stream, the silver stream, runs by.

Lying for the last time down on the green ground

In farewell gesture of self-love, softly he curved

To rest the delicate foot that is in my hand,

Empty as a moth’s discarded chrysalis.

My bright yet blind desire, your end was this

Death, and my winged heart murderous

Is the world’s broken heart, buried in his,

Between whose antlers starts the crucifix.

The Silver Stag is a folksong-like ballad text in seven verses. There are several substantial keyboard solos set between groups of verses in which the player is asked to ‘move constantly between gentleness and passion’. During the verses themselves the singer is accompanied in unison by the keyboard, which seeks out resonances suggested by the vocal line.

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