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Jasper Pillars (a beatus ille interlude)

by Jeff Johansson

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while trying to learn a 16th century poem, The Life Removed, by Luis de Leon, I was sitting at the piano, and the chords that I was plinking on seemed to bring the poem to life for me... This is an ode to the rustic life and has become something of a hymn for me, and I'd love to one day hear it with a chorus of voices that are not just mine...



How tranquil is the life
Of him who, shunning the vain world's uproar,
May follow, free from strife,
The hidden path, of yore
Chosen by the few who conned true wisdom's lore!

For he, with thoughts aloof,
By proud men's great estate is not oppressed.
Nor marvels at the roof
Of gold, built to attest
The Moor's skill, that on jasper pillars rests.

He heeds not though fame raise
His name afar on wings of rumour flung,
He cares not for the praise
Of cunning flatterer's tongue,
Nor for what truth sincere would leave unsung.

What boots it my content
That the vain voice of fame should favour me,
If in its service spent
I find myself to be
Vexed by dull care and gnawing misery?

O hill, O stream, O field,
O solitary refuge of delight,
Since my bark now must yield
To storm, your solace bright
I seek and flee this sea's tempestuous might.

Sleep broken by no fear
Be mine, and a day clear, serene, and free,
Shunning the look severe,
Lofty exceedingly,
Of him whom gold exalts or ancestry.

Me may the birds awake
With their sweet, unpremeditated song,
And those dark cares forsake
That e'er to him belong
Who lives not in his independence strong!

I to myself would live,
To enjoy the blessings that to Heaven I owe,
Alone, contemplative,
And freely love forgo,
Nor hope, fear, hatred, jealousy e'er know.

Upon the bare hillside
An orchard I have made with my own hand,
That in the sweet Springtide
All in fair flower doth stand
And promise sure of fruit shows through the land.

And, as though swift it strove
To see and to increase that loveliness,
From the clear ridge above
A stream pure, weariless
Hurrying to reach that ground doth onward press;

And straightway in repose
Its course it winds there tree and tree between,
And ever as it goes
The earth decks with new green
And with gay wealth of flowers spreads the scene.

The air in gentle breeze
A myriad scents for my delight distils,
It moves among the trees
With a soft sound that fills
The mind, and thought of gold or scepter kills.


released June 23, 1911
music written and performed by Jeff Johansson

lyrics from "The Life Removed" by Luis de Leon, translated by Aubrey F.G. Bell




Jeff Johansson Asheville

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