The Desire for Hermitage

(1954)

"The Desire for Hermitage" is the tenth and final song of Samuel Barber's song cycle Hermit Songs. The cycle was composed in 1953 and published in 1954. The premiere was sung by soprano Leontyne Price.

The poem is a translation of a text by an anonymous Irish monk who lived sometime between the 8th and 13th centuries. The English translation used by Barber is by Irish writer Seán Ó Faoláin.

The Desire for Hermitage


Ah! To be all alone in a little cell
with nobody near me;
beloved that pilgrimage before the last pilgrimage to death.
Singing the passing hours to cloudy Heaven;
Feeding upon dry bread and water from the cold spring.
That will be an end to evil when I am alone
in a lovely little corner among tombs
far from the houses of the great.
Ah! To be all alone in a littie cell, to be alone, all alone:
Alone I came into the world
alone I shall go from it.


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