I Hear an Army (op. 10, no. 3)

(1937)

“I Hear an Army” is the finale in Samuel Barber's Three Songs, Op. 10, published in 1939. Barber uses an aggressive, galloping accompaniment to mirror James Joyce’s poetic comparison of the approach of an army (and its thunderous horses) with the anger, bitterness, and betrayal experienced after the dissolution of a relationship.

I Hear An Army
by James Joyce


I hear an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees:
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with flutt'ring whips, the charioteers.


They cry unto the night their battlename:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.


They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, why have you left me alone?


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