Voyages, Cantata No. 2, Op. 41

music by Benjamin C. S. Boyle (b. 1979)

I. Avowal: Bind us in time                    

              Bind us in time, O Seasons clear, and awe.   

O minstrel galleons of Carib fire,
Bequeath us to no earthly shore until
Is answered in the vortex of our grave
The seal’s wide spindrift gaze toward paradise.

II. Seascape: Above the fresh ruffles of the surf                  

               Above the fresh ruffles of the surf
Bright striped urchins flay each other with sand.   
Gaily digging and scattering.
And in answer to their treble interjections   

The sun beats lightning on the waves,   
The waves fold thunder on the sand;
And could they hear me I would tell them:

O brilliant kids, frisk with your dog,   
Fondle your shells and sticks
but there is a line   
You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it   
Spry cordage of your bodies to caresses   
Too lichen-faithful from too wide a breast.   
The bottom of the sea is cruel.

 

III. Pairings: And yet this great wink of eternity               

              And yet this great wink of eternity,

Of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,   
Samite sheeted and processioned where   
Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,   
Laughing the wrapt inflections of our love;

And onward, as bells off San Salvador   
Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,
In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,—
Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,
Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.

Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours,   
And hasten while her penniless rich palms   
Pass superscription of bent foam and wave,—
Hasten, while they are true,—sleep, death, desire,   

              Close round one instant in one floating flower.

 

IVa. Aria: This tendered theme of you

This tendered theme of you that light   
Retrieves from sea plains where the sky   
Resigns a breast that every wave enthrones;   
While ribboned water lanes I wind
Are laved and scattered with no stroke   
Wide from your side, whereto this hour   
The sea lifts, also, reliquary hands.

 

IVb. Aria: And so, admitted through black swollen gates   

And so, admitted through black swollen gates
That must arrest all distance otherwise,—
Past whirling pillars and lithe pediments,   
Light wrestling there incessantly with light,   
Star kissing star through wave on wave unto   
Your body rocking!

                            and where death, if shed,   
Presumes no carnage, but this single change,—

Upon the steep floor flung from dawn to dawn   
The silken skilled transmemberment of song;

Permit me voyage, love, into your hands ...   

 

V. Descent: Meticulous, infrangible, and lonely                      

              Meticulous, past midnight in clear rime,   

Infrangible and lonely, smooth as though cast   
Together in one merciless white blade—

 —As if too brittle or too clear to touch!   
The cables of our sleep so swiftly filed,
             Already hang, shred ends from remembered stars.   

One frozen trackless smile ... What words   
Can strangle this deaf moonlight? For we
             Are overtaken.

 

VI. Chorale: Draw in your head

Draw in your head, alone and too tall here.   
Your eyes already in the slant of drifting foam;   

Your breath sealed by the ghosts I do not know:   
Draw in your head and sleep the long way home.

—Hart Crane (1899-1932), abbreviated and rearranged by the composer