"Sonnet" is the third song of David Leisner's song cycle To Sleep, which sets the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop.


The audio selection in the player to the right features Robert Osborne, baritone, and Susan Almasi, piano. The recording is from a live performance in New York, 1995. Used with the permission of the composer. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

by Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Audio PLaylist