The Right Thing

(1975)

"The Right Thing" is the seventh and final song in William Bolcom's cycle Open House. The cycle is for tenor (or soprano) and orchestra. A version for tenor or soprano and two pianists has also been published.

The Right Thing

The Right Thing
by Theodore Roethke


Let others probe the mystery if they can.
Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will
The right thing happens to the happy man.


The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
Let others delve that mystery if they can.


God bless the roots!—Body and soul are one!
The small become the great, the great the small;
The right thing happens to the happy man.


Child of the dark, he can out leap the sun,
His being single, and that being all:
The right thing happens to the happy man.


Or he sits still, a solid figure when
The self-destructive shake the common wall;
Takes to himself what mystery he can,


And, praising change as the slow night comes on,
Wills what he would, surrendering his will
Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
The right thing happens to the happy man.


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