"Lullaby" is the second song in Lee Hoiby's song cycle Southern Voices. The poem is by Robert Penn Warren.

Date: 1990Composer: Lee HoibyText: Robert Penn WarrenSong Collection: Southern Voices

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Lullaby: Smile in Sleep
by Robert Penn Warren

Sleep, my son, and smile in sleep.
You will dream the world anew.
Watching you now sleep,
I feel the world’s depleted force renew,
Feel the nerve expand and knit,
Feel a rustle in the blood,
Feel wink of warmth and stir of spirit,
As though spring woke in the heart’s cold Underwood.
The vernal work is now begun.

Sleep, my son.
Sleep, son.
You will see the nestling fall.
Blood flecks grass of the rabbit form.
You will, of course, see all
The world’s brute ox-heel wrong, and shrewd hand-harm.
Throats are soft to invite the blade.
Truth invites the journalist’s lie.
Love bestowed mourns trust betrayed,
But the heart most mourns its own infidelity.
The greater, then, your obligation.
Dream perfection.
Dream, son.
When the diver leaves the board
To hang at gleam-height against the sky,
Trajectory is toward
An image hung perfect as light in his mind’s wide eye.
So your dream will later serve you.
So now, dreaming, you serve me,
And give our hope new patent to
Enfranchise human possibility.
Grace undreamed is grace forgone.
Dream grace, son.
Sleep on.
Dream that sleep is a sunlit meadow
Drowsy with a dream of bees
Threading sun, and a shadow
Where you may lie lulled by their sunlit industries.
Let the murmurous bees of sleep
Tread down honey in the honeycomb.
Heart-deep now, your dream will keep
Sweet in that deep comb for time to come.
Dream the sweetness coming on.
Dream, sweet son.
Sleep on.
What if angry vectors veer
Around your sleeping head, and form?
There’s never need to fear
Violence of the poor world’s abstract storm.
For now you dream Reality.
Matter groans to touch your hand.
Matter lifts now like the sea
Toward that strong moon that is your dream’s command.
Dream the power coming on.
Dream, strong son.
Sleep on.

Sheet Music


Composer(s): Lee Hoiby

Voice Type: Medium

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