Monday, October 31, 2011

The Water Lily







Words:  Henry Lawson
Tune:  Priscilla Herdman






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A lonely young wife
In her dreaming discerns
A lily-decked pool
With a border of ferns,
And a beautiful child,
With butterfly wings,
Trips down to the edge of the water and sings:
     
‘Come, mamma! come!
‘Quick! follow me—
‘Step out on the leaves of the water-lily!’
     
And the lonely young wife,
Her heart beating wild,
Cries, ‘Wait till I come,
‘Till I reach you, my child!’
But the beautiful child
With butterfly wings
Steps out on the leaves of the lily and sings:
     
‘Come, mamma! come!
‘Quick! follow me!
‘And step on the leaves of the water-lily!

     
And the wife in her dreaming
Steps out on the stream,
But the lily leaves sink
And she wakes from her dream.
Ah, the waking is sad,
For the tears that it brings,
And she knows ’tis her dead baby’s spirit that sings:
     
‘Come, mamma! come!
‘Quick! follow me!
‘Step out on the leaves of the water-lily!’


Notes from: The Songs of Henry Lawson (2nd Ed) by Chris Kempster.  Published with the following note:

This poem was first published in Lawson's mother's monthly journal, "The Dawn" with the line, "Suggested to the writer by a curious dream related to the writer by a lady friend".  In Lawson's imagination, the child had butterfly wings.

This tune from Priscilla Herdman's 1977 album, The Water Lily.

With thanks to Melissa Jones on viola.

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