Lyrics, Lyrics for other Composers, Songwriting, Writing, Writing Process

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (III)

In the early morning of May 31, 1967, Billy Strayhorn made his transition to another realm. In honor of him, and his musical legacy, I would like to share “Lotus Blossom”, the third poem from my series inspired by his compositions.

I was deeply moved by the recording of Duke Ellington playing this piece as an impromptu tribute to Billy. I understand that it was accidently recorded after the session for Duke’s album “And His Mother Called Him Bill” was supposed to have concluded.  In the background, you can hear the other band members talking and packing up as he begins to play this intimate solo. Oh! I listened to this recording many, many, many times while I was writing the words below. You can also listen to it here: “Lotus Blossom” on YouTube*.

I wanted to compose a piece where the lotus not only described how I personally feel about Billy Strayhorn, his life, the man, the artist, and how he inspires me and countless other musicians, but one that would also describe the natural life cycle of this mystical plant. It was the juxtaposition of these two metaphors that inspired me and I hope you can see (and hear) both of these ideas reflected below.


Lotus Blossom
©2009 Laurie Early
(for Billy Strayhorn)

Transcendent lotus blossom
rising up from the darkness
your secrets untold
await to unfold and
shatter the world we knew

So many try to capture
the flower beyond their vision
They reach for your light,
mirage in the night,
shimmering azure blue

Long ago
I searched for you
and found I’d lost my way
Now you’re here
I’m not alone
and in my heart you’ll stay

Elegant lotus blossom
you are my inspiration
beauty sublime
that won’t fade with time
reflecting a love so true

Long ago
I searched for you
and found I’d lost my way
But, now you’re here
I’m not alone
and in my heart you’ll stay

Petals are gently falling
seeds drifting in the water,
floating downstream
the path where you’ve been
eternally guides us on

A beauty sublime
that won’t fade with time
eternally guides us on.

The other Strayhorn inspired poems I have posted here are:  (I) My Isfahan and (II) Chelsea Bridge.