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No Dying Then

Lyrics Based on Shakespeare Sonnet 146

Music by Charles Wolff

Real Audio Clip


Shakespeare's Text

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
[ ] these rebel powers that thee array;
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.

Note the brackets in the second line of the text above; the original text (two syllables?) is unknown due to a printer's error, in which the second line was written as "My sinful earth these rebel powers that thee array."

The proposed repairs to this are many; [Leishman61:119] says "Thrall to these rebel powers that thee array." [Wilson66:262] "Most (editors) have explained the obvious misprinting of (the Quarto edition) by assuming that the printer inadvertently repeated the last three words of line 1 at the beginning of line 2, and thus created a gap which must be filled by some emendation or other. But Massey etc. rightly decided, I think, to look for the corruption at the other end of the line, and it is clear that if 'that thee' be omitted we are left with a line both metrically satisfactory and pregnant in meaning, inasmuch as the word 'array' is now seen to carry the double sense of 'defile' in reference to 'sinful earth' and 'clothe', referring to the costly gay garments. 'Rebel powers' mean of course the fleshly lusts while 'these' may be rendered 'that everyone knows about.'... line 2 is 'a kind of parenthetical development common in Shakespeare, but appearing to be incomplete to Thorpe or the printer, was supplied with 'that thee' to make sense.'"

For my own song lyric, I chose to go with Massey's suggestion, and the line used in the lyric is "This earth, whose rebel powers here array."

Research Notes

My Interpretation

Musical Style Considerations

Lyrical Adaptation

Iambic Pentameter Musical Setting

Adapted Song Lyric

No Dying Then

adaptation and music Copyright 1998 Charles Wolff

Poor soul, placed here on this sinful earth,
This earth, whose rebel powers here array,
Why do you pine within and suffer dearth,
Yet paint your outward walls so falsely gay?

O soul, thy gain, is in thy servant's loss;
Thy victory hangs on a cursed cross.
So shall you conquer death, which conquers men
And death defeated, there's no dying then.

Why such a price, to pay so short a lease,
Do you upon your fading mansion spend?
What profit, though your earthly wealth increase
At cost of soul upon the journey's end?

O soul, thy gain, is in thy servant's loss;
Thy victory hangs on a cursed cross.
So shall you conquer death, which conquers men
And death defeated, there's no dying then.

bridge:
May heaven be where you your treasures store;
Within be fed, without be rich no more.

Poor soul, placed here on this sinful earth,
This earth, whose rebel powers here array,
Why do you pine within and suffer dearth,
Yet paint your outward walls so falsely gay?

O soul, thy gain, is in thy servant's loss;
Thy victory hangs on a cursed cross.
So shall you conquer death, which conquers men
And death defeated, there's no dying then.

And death defeated, there's no dying then.

Real Audio Clip


Maintained by: Charles Wolff
Last Updated: 4/9/98