I. I've Known Rivers
I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
II. Joy
I went to look for Joy,
Slim, dancing Joy,
Gay, laughing Joy,
Bright-eyed Joy,
And I found her
Driving the butcher's cart
In the arms of the butcher boy!
Such company, such company,
As keeps this young nymph, Joy!
III. Conservatory Student Struggles With Higher Instrumentation
The saxophone
Has a vulgar tone.
I wish it would
Let me alone.
The saxophone
Is ordinary.
More than that,
It's mercenary!
I'd never been
Sent!
The saxophone's
An instrument
By which I wish
I'd never been
Sent!
The saxophone's
An instrument
By which I wish
I'd never been
Sent!
IV. Blues at Daw
I don't dare start thinking in the morning.
I don't dare start thinking in the morning.
If I thought thoughts in bed,
Them thoughts would bust my head
So I don't dare start thinking in the morning.
I don't dare remember in the morning.
Don't dare remember in the morning.
If I recall the day before,
I wouldn't get up no more
So I don't dare remember in the morning.
V. Song for Billie Holiday
What can purge my heart
Of the song
And the sadness?
What can purge my heart
But the song
Of the sadness?
What can purge my heart
Of the sadness
Of the song?
Do not speak of sorrow
With dust in her hair,
Or bits of dust in eyes
A chance wind blows there.
The sorrow that I speak of
Is dusted with despair.
Voice of muted trumpet,
Cold brass in warm air.
Bitter television blurred
By sound that shimmers
Where?
VI. Oppression
How dreams
Are not available
To the dreamers,
Nor songs,
To the singers.
In some lands
Dark night
And cold steel
Prevail
But the dream
Will come back,
And the song
Break
Its jail.
VII. Daybreak in Alabama
When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

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