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Thursday, May 21, 2015

when lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd


When I was in high school, I sang in the choir for three years.  I could hit notes well enough that I could blend in with other people, just not well enough that I'd want to sing solo anyplace other than my shower.  My freshman or sophomore year we sang the song "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" - an adaptation of a poem by the same name written by Walt Whitman after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  

Here's an excerpt. 

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.


The melody of the song was beautiful and matched the mournfulness of the song.  Now every spring when I see the lilacs blooming, that song pops into my head.  Funny the random associations you end up making in your life isn't it?  I probably couldn't name five songs that I sang in high school choir, but I see a lilac, and all the harmonies of the lilac song come back to me.  

Luckily I don't feel mournful when I catch the beautiful scent of lilacs.  Just nostalgic.  Which is how I feel about most spring flowers.  

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