Now I Have Fed and Eaten Up the Rose
Three Songs, op. 45, 1972.
For voice and piano

Song No. 1. "Now I Have Fed and Eaten Up the Rose."

Samuel Barber's "Now I Have Fed and Eaten Up the Rose"
Composed between 1935 and 1937, this song has an unusual and rare Joycean source -- a translation of a poem by the Gottfried Keller, translated by Joyce from the original German. Interestingly enough, the original German poem was also set to music by Othmar Schoenk in 1926 as Song No. 8 of his Opus 40 Lebendig begraben cycle.


THREE SONGS op. 45 (1972)

1. "Now I Have Fed and Eaten Up the Rose"

(1972; Moderato, James Joyce: after the German of Gottfried Keller)

Now have I fed and eaten up the rose
Which then she laid within my stiffcold hand.
That I should ever feed upon a rose
I never had beleived in liveman's land.

Only I wonder was it white or red
The flower that in the darkness my food has been.
Give us, and if Thou give, thy daily bread,
Deliver us from evil, Lord, Amen.


Here is the original German poem, by Gottfried Keller:

Da hab' ich gar die Rose aufgegessen

Da hab' ich gar die Rose aufgegessen,
Die sie mir in die starre Hand gegeben!
Daß ich noch einmal würde Rosen essen,
Hätt nimmer ich geglaubt in meinem Leben!

Ich möcht' nur wissen, ob es eine rote,
Ob eine weiße Rose das gewesen?
Gib täglich uns, o Herr! von deinem Brote,
Und wenn du willst, erlös' uns von dem Bösen!

I'd like to thank Emily Ezust at the Lied and Song Text Page for the German text and the information on both Keller and Schoenk.

CD Information

To obtain all of Barber's Joycean songs there is really only one choice -- Secrets of the Old, a 2-disc set of Samuel Barber's complete songs. (It used to just be called "The Songs Complete.") The songs are sung by Cheryl Studer and Thomas Hampson, with John Browning on piano. It is put out by Deutsche Grammophon and has the serial number 435 867-2. "Now I Have Fed and Eaten Up the Rose" is sung by Thomas Hampson.
You may listen to sound samples and/or purchase Samuel Barber CDs online from below:

Barber: Secrets of the Old --The Complete Songs (2 CD set)
$26.67; Samuel Barber / Audio CD / Released 1994
(Complete -- contains all nine Joycean songs!)

More Barber

Chamber Music Songs -- These six songs are settings of poems from Chamber Music.

Nuvoletta -- A beautiful song with lyrics adapted from Finnegans Wake.

Solitary Hotel -- A song with lyrics adapted from Ulysses.

Fadograph of a Yestern Scene -- A short instrumental inspired from a line in Finnegans Wake.

--A. Ruch
14 December 2000
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