These are lullabies I have written over the years, as poems. Some of my poems have been set to music and thus have become actual songs and lullabies.
For a Ukrainian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch
Where does the butterfly go ...
when lightning rails ...
when thunder howls ...
when hailstones scream ...
when winter scowls ...
when nights compound dark frosts with snow ...
where does the butterfly go?
Two Songs of a Fool
A speckled cat and a tame hare
Eat at my hearthstone
And seep there;
And both look up to me alone
For learning and defence
As I look up to Providence.
I start out of my sleep to think
Some day I may forget
Their food and drink;
Or, the house door left unshut,
The hare may run till it's found
The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound.
I bear a burden that might well try
Men that do all by rule,
And what can I
That am a wandering-witted fool
Troth with the Dead
The moon is broken in twain, and half a moon
Before me lies on the still, pale floor of the sky;
The other half of the broken coin of troth
Is buried away in the dark, where the still dead lie.
They buried her half in the grave when they laid her away;
I had pushed it gently in among the thick of her hair
Where it gathered towards the plait, on that very last day;
And like a moon in secret it is shining there.
My half shines in the sky, for a general sign
Of the troth with the dead I pledged myself to keep;
You may give over plough, boys,
You may take the gear to the stead,
All the sweat o' your brow, boys,
Will never get beer and bread.
The seed's waste, I know, boys,
There's not a blade will grow, boys,
'Tis cropped out, I trow, boys,
And Tommy's dead.
Send the colt to fair, boys,
He's going blind, as I said,
My old eyes can't bear, boys,
To see him in the shed;
The cow's dry and spare, boys,
She's neither here nor there, boys,
I doubt she's badly bread;
Stop the mill to-morn, boys,
Tz'u No. 10 Exile
To the tune of "Bodhisattva Aliens"
Soft breezes, mild sunshine,
spring is still young.
The sudden change of the light
brightened my spirit.
But upon awakening from slumber,
I felt the chill air;
The plum flower withered in my hair.
Where can I call my native land?
Forget - I cannot, except in wine
when I drown my care.
Incense was lighted when I went to sleep;
Though the embers are now cold,
the warmth of wine still burns on.
Two Tramps in Mud Time
Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Dogs have a sense beyond our ken -
At least my little Trixie had:
Tail-wagging when I laughed, and when
I sighed, eyes luminously sad.
And if I planned to go away,
She'd know, oh, days and days before:
Aye, dogs I think are sometimes fey,
They seem to sense our fate in store.
Now take the case of old Tome Low;
With flowers each week he'd call on me.
Dear Trixie used to love him so,
With joyous jump upon his knee.
Yet when he wandered in one day,
Her hair grew sudden stark with dread;
True and False Comforts
O God, whose favorable eye,
The sin-sick soul revives,
Holy and heavenly is the joy
Thy shining presence gives.
Not such as hypocrites suppose,
Who with a graceless heart
Taste not of Thee, but drink a dose,
Prepared by Satan's art.
Intoxicating joys are theirs,
Who while they boast their light,
And seem to soar above the stars,
Are plunging into night.
Lull'd in a soft and fatal sleep,
They sin and yet rejoice;
Were they indeed the Saviour's sheep,
Twilight in the Alps
I love the hour that comes, with dusky hair
And dewy feet, along the Alpine dells
To lead the cattle forth. A thousand bells
Go chiming after her across the fair
And flowery uplands, while the rosy flare
Of sunset on the snowy mountain dwells,
And valleys darken, and the drowsy spells
Of peace are woven through the purple air.
Dear is the magic of this hour: she seems
To walk before the dark by falling rills,
And lend a sweeter song to hidden streams;
She opens all the doors of night, and fills
Twilight and I Went Hand in Hand
Twilight and I went hand in hand,
As lovers walk in shining Mays,
O'er musky, memory-haunted ways,
Across a lonely harvest-land,
Where west winds chanted in the wheat
An old, old vesper wondrous sweet.
Oh, Twilight was a comrade rare
For gypsy heath or templed grove,
In her gray vesture, shadow-wove;
I saw the darkness of her hair
Faint-mirrored in a field-pool dim,
As we stood tip-toe on its rim.
We went as lightly as on wings
Through many a scented chamber fair,