Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Many of the texts I've set thus far presented a "core" emotion or image for me to latch on to, as a sort of center of gravity for the language that I develop for the piece. While the imagery here is clear, I found myself torn between identifying the music with the comforting tone of the speaker and anguish that the listener is feeling. The text represents an event that amounts to nothing less than painful loss, and yet the speaker wants the listener to "forget and smile" if need be. That line alone is peculiar: how can you ask someone to forget? As painful as loss is, is an erased memory preferred? And after begging the listener to remember them in the previous lines?
It's one of those texts I may return to in a few years and try to set again, perhaps with greater insight.