EXPANSIVE POETRY ONLINE
A Journal of Contemporary Arts 

 

SECTIONS FROM A LIBRETTO & POEMS 

 

by

MICHAEL CURTIS
____________

Three Songs from the Galatea;
         libretto II of “The Aestheticon”

SCENE: The agora of Palaipaphos

        [A ceremonial chant is heard off-stage.]
Hypathia:   Aphrodite
Chorus:                golden colored
Doris:        God of Cyprus
Chorus:               subdue the soldier
Eudoxia:    the feathered bird
Chorus:              who dances sky
                  the howling beasts and thee, and I

      [Enter the priestess and her train of Asiatic
       dressed hetaerae.]

Hypathia:  lay the wreath
Chorus:              the flowered garland
Doris:        on the altar
Chorus:              of rich Kytherea
Eudoxia:   to feed the stone’s
Chorus:              resplendent fire
                 that life be granted Love’s desire

Hypathia: hail! Lady
Chorus:             Queen of Cyprus
Doris:       crowned in glory
Chorus:            of God’s design
Eudoxia:  a-like the moon’s
Chorus:            silver starlight
                 shine in arrows of delight

     [Several hetaerae mix with the men
      to engage in negotiation.]

Hypathia: we who symbol
Chorus:            forceful pleasure
Doris:       offer humans
Chorus:            taste sublime
Eudoxia:  You who rule
Chorus:            the heaven’s need
                 bless the acting of the deed

Hypathia: bring to Cyprus
Chorus:           carnal pleasure
Doris:       sing the hymn
Chorus:           of lust divine
Eudoxia:  give the power
Chorus:           will and beauty
                 through which we offer Love to Thee


SCENE: Open air taverna, The Ambrosia

     [A brief instrumental prelude and the stirring
      of the dance before the song.]

Stasinus:   silver shades                      (boys dance while singing,
Boys:               embrace the moon       step hard on first notes)
Stasinus:   caressing feathers
Boys:              breezes swoon
Stasinus:   dewy grasses
Boys:              dampen night
Stasinus:   ecstasy brings god-like sight

Stasinus:         Bakkos takes
Boys:        Ariadne
Stasinus:         Kypris purring
Boys:        is well pleased
Stasinus:         scratching flesh
Boys:        the blood runs down
Stasinus:         blossoms there, love's flowers abound

Stasinus:   Ares lays
Boys:              his sword inside
Stasinus:   Kypris sheath
Boys:             She stretching sighs
Stasinus:   skies open
Boys:             Kypris cries
Stasinus:   the God’s force is not denied

Stasinus:         volcano rumbles
Boys:        trembles earth
Stasinus:         fire and rock
Boys:        in painful birth
Stasinus:         rolling ground
Boys:        yawning parts
Stasinus:        gasses flow in screaming starts 

Stasinus:   faster beats
Boys:             a straining heart
Stasinus:   voiceless speech
Boys:             from mouth departs
Stasinus:   is it love
Boys:             is it art
Stasinus:   conscious thought is torn apart

     [General applause and a few murmurs.]


SCENE: The studio of Pygmalion

                              MAN II
Told you she would dance.
                              MAN I
And the poet sing.
                              STASINUS
Whiter Galatea
                       than are the snow-white petals
slimmer than the adder
                       more flowery than the meadows
fresher than the tender kid
                       more splendid than is crystal
smother than are shells
                       polished in the tides

Truer Galatea
                       than matrons of the moon
humbler than are peacocks
                       less astringent than perfumes
gentler than are cougars
                       less quarrelsome than are hens
finer than are women
                       who breathe and age and die

                            MAN I
Sad song.
                            MAN II
Sad and lovely.
 

                            DORIS
Lovely and sad.

     [Other hetaerae and hangers-on enter Pygmalion’s workshop.]

 

                                                                    __________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epithalamion

 Ahh: May is the month of sweetness & light,
              Of smiles & delights,
               Of love & of life;
May is the month that you marry a wife.
Sing in the Spring, “
Ding, ding-a-ling
              A beautiful thing
              Is a girl in Spring
In white in a ring. O, sing, “
Ding-a-ling
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling
.” Joy in a wife.
              Ahh: sing and give life,
              Bring smiles and delight.
O, May is the month of sweetness & light,
Of ding, ding-a-ling & love birds who sing
& flowers who bloom & brides & bridegrooms…
Ahh: sing, “
Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling.”

 

Solstice                                                                                                  

 When you with winter lose your looks
    And I drop all my leaves,
When summer’s warmth has turned to chill
    And spring to memory,
I will my dearest love you still,
    Well though my buds may freeze,
When you with winter lose your looks
    And I drop all my leaves.