Shine Before My Eyes
Songs from Tagore's "Gitanjali"
ORCHESTRATION: soprano, piano
WORDS BY: Rabindranath Tagore, translated by William Radice
COMMISSIONED BY: Beethovenfeste, Bonn
DEDICATION: Rebecca Cross
PREMIERE DATE: September 14, 2014
Beethoven Festival 2014 / Divan of Song
Christiane Iven, soprano
Burkhard Kehring, piano
The work was originally launched with the title Ablaze! in 2014. After some reflection, in 2021 the title was changed to Shine Before My Eyes as I felt it better represented what the work was about.
I Want You
I want you, you—
This is what I seem to be always
saying in my mind.
That I go around striving to find
Seems false, false—
I want you.
Like the night
hiding within itself
a prayer for the light,
So in the turbulent depths of my mind
I want you.
Like peace longing with all its might
when storms strike,
So even when it’s you I wound,
I want you.
O Silence, if you won’t speak,
If you don’t say a word,
I’ll accept in my heart
Your price must be paid.
I’ll be silent myself,
As patient and bowed
As the night when unblinking stars
Dark ends. There’ll be dawn,
Your voice will crack open the sky
With a golden cascade.
Then, in my nest, will the birds erupt
With your tune?
Will my jasmine burst out with flowers
Your music has made?
At Night I Watched for Him to Come
At night I watched for him to come:
With dawn now comes the fear
That I will now fall fast asleep
And he will then appear-
Suddenly on the path he’ll be,
Standing at my gate:
He knows the path and house, despite
Their murky, jungly state.
O friends, I beg of you,
Don’t stop him; let him through.
And if then at his footsteps’ tread
I don’t on my own awake,
I ask, dear friends, that none of you
Should my deep slumber break.
Nor do I want to be aroused
By morning’s grand birdsong,
Its burst of light, its breeze that drives
The bakul-scent along.
Let me, please, sleep on,
Unstirred by anyone.
For oh the sleep is best from which
Unconsciously I rise
Because I sense the touch of his hand
That on me gently lies:
All slumberous confusion cleared
By seeing his soft gaze—
The radiant light of his smiling face
Setting my smile ablaze!
A vision that will seem
To match my wildest dream.
Oh may he shine before my eyes
Before all other light!
Oh may his beauty be the dawn
That ends my lonely night.
And with my first astonished joy
At seeing his tender stare,
Oh may my soul leap up in bliss
And find him everywhere.
Please none of you wake me:
Let him be the first I see.
From GITANJALI by Rabindranath Tagore, A new translation by William Radice (published by Penguin Books India). Text copyright © William Radice, 2011. Used by Permission.